Rocky Mountain Research Station Publications

RMRS Online Publication - Journal Articles, External Publications, and Special Reports
Index for characterizing post-fire soil environments in temperate coniferous forests


Jain, Theresa B.; Pilliod, David S.; Graham, Russell T.; Lentile, Leigh B.; Sandquist, Jonathan E. 2012. Index for characterizing post-fire soil environments in temperate coniferous forests. Forests. 3(3): 445-466.

doi: 10.3390/f3030445

Many scientists and managers have an interest in describing the environment following a fire to understand the effects on soil productivity, vegetation growth, and wildlife habitat, but little research has focused on the scientific rationale for classifying the post-fire environment. We developed an empirically-grounded soil post-fire index (PFI) based on available science and ecological thresholds. Using over 50 literature sources, we identified a minimum of five broad categories of post-fire outcomes: (a) unburned, (b) abundant surface organic matter ( > 85% surface organic matter), (c) moderate amount of surface organic matter ( ≥ 40 through 85%), (d) small amounts of surface organic matter ( < 40%), and (e) absence of surface organic matter (no organic matter left). We then subdivided each broad category on the basis of post-fire mineral soil colors providing a more fine-tuned post-fire soil index. We related each PFI category to characteristics such as soil temperature and duration of heating during fire, and physical, chemical, and biological responses. Classifying or describing post-fire soil conditions consistently will improve interpretations of fire effects research and facilitate communication of potential responses or outcomes (e.g., erosion potential) from fires of varying severities.

Keywords: fire effects, fire severity, soil burn severity, post-fire soil productivity, post-fire microbes, post-fire niche


About PDFs: For best results, do not open the PDF in your Web browser. Right-click on the PDF link to download the PDF file directly to your computer. Click here for more PDF help.


Download Article
http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2012_jain_t001.pdf

PDF File Size: 265 K


Title: RMRS Other Publications: Index for characterizing post-fire soil environments in temperate coniferous forests
Electronic Publish Date: October 3, 2012
Last Update:
October 3, 2012

RMRS Publications | Order a publication | Contact Us