International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Fire severity effects on soil organic matter from a ponderosa pine forest: a laboratory study

Jeff A. Hatten A C and Darlene Zabowski B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Mississippi State University, College of Forest Resources, Department of Forestry, Box 9681, MS State, MS 39762, USA.

B University of Washington, College of Forest Resources, Box 352100, Seattle, WA 98195-2100, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: jhatten@cfr.msstate.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 19(5) 613-623 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF08048
Submitted: 2 April 2008  Accepted: 27 November 2009   Published: 9 August 2010

Abstract

This study investigated the changes in soil organic matter composition by controlling fire severity of laboratory burns on reconstructed surface soil profiles (O, A1 (0–1 cm), and A2 (1–2 cm)). Laboratory burning simulated prescribed burns that would be typical in the understorey of a ponderosa pine forest at low, moderate, and high–moderate severity levels. Soils were analysed for C, N and soil organic matter composition. Soil organic matter was fractionated into humin, humic acid, fulvic acid, soluble non-humic materials and other hydrophobic compounds. In the O horizon, low-, moderate-, and high-severity treatments consumed an increasing proportion of C and N. Carbon content of the mineral soil was unaffected by burning; however, N content of the A2 horizon decreased after the moderate- and high-severity treatments, likely as a result of N volatilisation. The proportion of non-soluble material in the O horizon increased with fire severity, whereas the proportion of humin C as total C of the A horizon decreased with fire severity. The decrease in humin was followed by an increase in the other hydrophobic compounds. The higher fire intensity experienced by the burning O horizon created recalcitrant materials while an increase in labile soil organic matter was observed in mineral soil. An increase in labile soil organic matter may cause elevated C and N mineralisation rates often seen after fire.

Additional keywords: black carbon, carbon, fire intensity, fulvic acid, humic acid, humin, nitrogen.


Acknowledgements

We thank the US Joint Fire Sciences Program for the funds to conduct this study as part of the Fire and Fire Surrogates Study and Season and Interval of Burn Study. The authors would like to thank Eric Turnblom for statistical consulting; James Reardon and Beyhan Amichev for assistance during method development stages of this study; George Scherer for field-work assistance; Dongsen Xue for his laboratory assistance; and Robert Edmonds, Ron Sletten and Dan Vogt for their comments on previous versions of this manuscript. Additionally, the paper benefited from comments by three anonymous reviewers.


References


Agee J (1994) Fire and weather disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems of the eastern Cascades. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-320. (Portland, OR)

Almendros G, Martın F , Gonzalez-Vila FJ (1988) Effects of fire on humic and lipid fractions in a Dystric Xerochrept in Spain. Geoderma  42, 115–127.
CrossRef | CAS |

Almendros G, Gonzalez-Vila FJ , Martin F (1990) Fire-induced transformation of soil organic matter from an oak forest: an experimental approach to the effects of fire on humic substances. Soil Science  149, 158–168.
CrossRef | CAS |

Almendros G, Knicker H , Gonzalez-Vila FJ (2003) Rearrangement of carbon and nitrogen forms in peat after progressive thermal oxidation as determined by solid-state 13C- and 15N-NMR spectroscopy. Organic Geochemistry  34, 1559–1568.
CrossRef | CAS |

Baldock JA , Skjemstad JO (2000) Role of the soil matrix and minerals in protecting natural organic materials against biological attack. Organic Geochemistry  31, 697–710.
CrossRef | CAS |

Baldock JA , Smernik RJ (2002) Chemical composition and bioavailability of thermally altered Pinus resinosa (Red pine) wood. Organic Geochemistry  33, 1093–1109.
CrossRef | CAS |

Battle J , Golladay SW (2003) Prescribed fire’s impact on water quality of depressional wetlands in south-western Georgia. American Midland Naturalist  150, 15–25.
CrossRef |

Blank RR, Allen F , Young JA (1994) Extractable anions in soils following wildfire in a sagebrush–grass community. Soil Science Society of America Journal  58, 564–570.

CAS | | CrossRef |

Certini G (2005) Effects of fire on properties of forest soils: a review. Oecologia  143, 1–10.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Cheng C, Lehman J, Thies J, Burton S , Engelhard M (2006) Oxidation of black carbon by biotic and abiotic processes. Organic Geochemistry  37, 1477–1488.
CrossRef | CAS |

Choromanska U , DeLuca TH (2002) Microbial activity and nitrogen mineralization in forest mineral soils following heating: evaluation of post-fire effects. Soil Biology & Biochemistry  34, 263–271.
CrossRef | CAS |

Colman D, Crossley DJr, Hendrix P (2004) ‘Fundamentals of Soil Ecology.’ (Elsevier Academic Press: Amsterdam)

Dai J, Wei R, Xing B, Gu M , Wang L (2006) Characterization of fulvic acid fractions obtained by sequential extractions with pH buffers, water, and ethanol from paddy soils. Geoderma  135, 284–295.
CrossRef | CAS |

DeBano LF, Neary DG, Ffolliott PF (1998) ‘Fire’s Effect on Ecosystems.’ (Wiley: New York)

Doerr SH, Shakesby RA , Walsh RPD (2000) Soil water repellency: its causes, characteristics and hydro-geomorphological significance. Earth-Science Reviews  51, 33–65.
CrossRef |

Everett RL, Schellhaas R, Keenum D, Spurbeck D , Ohlson P (2000) Fire history in the ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests on the east slope of the Washington Cascades. Forest Ecology and Management  129, 207–225.
CrossRef |

Fernández I, Cabaneiro A , Carballas T (1997) Organic matter changes immediately after a wildfire in an Atlantic forest soil and comparison with laboratory soil heating. Soil Biology & Biochemistry  29, 1–11.
CrossRef |

Fernández I, Cabaneiro A , Carballas T (1999) Carbon mineralization dynamics in soils after wildfires in two Galician forests. Soil Biology & Biochemistry  31, 1853–1865.
CrossRef |

Fernández I, Cabaneiro A , Carballas T (2001) Thermal resistance to high temperatures of different organic fractions from soils under pine forests. Geoderma  104, 281–298.
CrossRef |

Fernández I, Cabaneiro A , Gonzalez-Prieto SJ (2004) Use of 13C to monitor soil organic matter transformations caused by a simulated forest fire. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry  18, 435–442.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Goldberg ED (1985) ‘Black Carbon in the Environment.’ (Wiley: New York)

Gonzalez-Perez JA, Gonzalez-Vila FJ, Almendros G , Knicker H (2004) The effect of fire on soil organic matter – a review. Environment International  30, 855–870.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Gonzalez-Vila FJ, Almendros G (2003) Thermal transformations of soil organic matter by natural fires and laboratory-controlled heatings. In ‘Natural and Laboratory-Simulated Thermal Geochemical Processes’. (Ed. R Ikan) pp. 153–200. (Kluwer Academic Publishing: Boston, MA)

Guerrero C, Mataix-Solera J, Gomez I, Garcia-Orenes F , Jordan MM (2005) Microbial recolonization and chemical changes in a soil heated at different temperatures. International Journal of Wildland Fire  14, 385–400.
CrossRef | CAS |

Guinto DF, Saffigna PG, Xu ZH, House APN , Perera MCS (1999) Soil nitrogen mineralization and organic matter composition revealed by 13C NMR spectroscopy under repeated prescribed burning in eucalypt forests of south-east Queensland. Australian Journal of Soil Research  37, 123–135.
CrossRef |

Gustafsson O, Haghseta F, Chan C, MacFarlane J , Gschwend PM (1997) Quantification of the dilute sedimentary soot phase: implications for PAH speciation and bioavailability. Environmental Science & Technology  31, 203–209.
CrossRef | CAS |

Hammes K, Smernik RJ, Skjemstad JO, Herzog A, Vogt UF , Schmidt MWI (2006) Synthesis and characterization of laboratory-charred grass straw (Oryza sativa) and chestnut wood (Castanea sativa) as reference materials for black carbon quantification. Organic Geochemistry  37, 1629–1633.
CrossRef | CAS |

Hammes K, Schmidt MWI, Smernik RJ, Currie LA, Ball WP, Nguyen TH, Louchouarn P , Houel S (2007) Comparison of quantification methods to measure fire-derived (black/elemental) carbon in soils and sediments using reference materials from soil, water, sediment and the atmosphere. Global Biogeochemical Cycles  21, GB3016.
CrossRef |

Hatten JA , Zabowski D (2009) Changes in soil organic matter pools and carbon mineralization as influenced by fire severity. Soil Science Society of America Journal  73, 262–273.
CrossRef | CAS |

Hatten J, Zabowski D, Scherer G , Dolan E (2005) A comparison of soil properties after contemporary wildfire and fire suppression. Forest Ecology and Management  220, 227–241.
CrossRef |

Hatten JA, Zabowski D, Ogden A , Thies T (2008) Soil organic matter in a ponderosa pine forest with varying seasons and intervals of prescribed burn. Forest Ecology and Management  255, 2555–2565.
CrossRef |

Hernández T, Garcia C , Reinhardt I (1997) Short-term effect of wildfire on the chemical, biochemical and microbiological properties of Mediterranean pine forest soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils  25, 109–116.
CrossRef |

Kelleher BP, Simpson MJ , Simpson AJ (2006) Assessing the fate and transformation of plant residues in the terrestrial environment using HR-MAS NMR spectroscopy. Geochimica  70, 4080–4094.
CrossRef | CAS |

Key CH, Benson NC (2006) Landscape assessment (LA) sampling and analysis methods. In ‘FIREMON: Fire Effects Monitoring and Inventory System’. (Eds C Duncan, RE Keane, JF Caratti, CH Key, NC Benson, S Sutherland, LJ Gangi) USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-164-CD. (Fort Collins, CO)

Knicker H, Gonzalez-Vila FJ, Polvillo O, Gonzalez JA , Almendros G (2005) Fire-induced transformation of C- and N-forms in different organic soil fractions from a Dystric Cambisol under Mediterranean pine forest (Pinus pinaster). Soil Biology & Biochemistry  37, 701–718.
CrossRef | CAS |

Kuhlbusch TAJ , Crutzen PJ (1995) Toward a global estimate of black carbon in residues of vegetation fires representing a sink of atmospheric CO2 and source of O2. Global Biogeochemical Cycles  9, 491–501.
CrossRef | CAS |

Leenheer JA (1981) Comprehensive approach to preparative isolation and fractionation of dissolved organic carbon from natural waters and wastewaters. Environmental Science & Technology  15, 578–587.
CrossRef | CAS |

Malcolm RL (1990) Variations between humic substances isolated from soils, stream waters, and groundwaters as revealed by 13C-NMR spectroscopy. In ‘Humic Substances in Soil and Crop Sciences’. (Eds P MacCarthy, CE Clapp, RL Malcolm, PR Bloom) pp. 13–35. (American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI)

McIver JD , Ottmar R (2007) Fuel mass and stand structure after post-fire logging of a severely burned ponderosa pine forest in north-eastern Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management  238, 268–279.
CrossRef |

Munsell Color Company (2000) ‘Munsell Soil Color Charts.’ (X-Rite Inc: Grand Rapids, MI)

Neary DG, Klopatek CC, DeBano LF , Ffolliott PF (1999) Fire effects on belowground sustainability: a review and synthesis. Forest Ecology and Management  122, 51–71.
CrossRef |

Nelson DW, Sommers LE (1996) Total carbon, organic carbon, and organic matter. In ‘Methods of Soil analysis, Part 3. Chemical Methods’. (Eds DL Sparks, AL Page, PA Helmke, RH Loeppert, PN Soltanpour, MA Tabatabai, CT Johnston, ME Sumner) pp. 961–1010. (Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI)

Page-Dumroese DS , Jurgensen MF (2006) Soil carbon and nitrogen pools in mid- to late-successional forest stands of the north-western United States: potential impact of fire. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  36, 2270–2284.
CrossRef | CAS |

Preston CM , Schmidt MWI (2006) Black (pyrogenic) carbon: a synthesis of current knowledge and uncertainties with special consideration of boreal regions. Biogeosciences  3, 397–420.
CrossRef | CAS |

Qualls R , Haines BL (1991) Geochemistry of dissolved organic nutrients in water percolating through a forest ecosystem. Soil Science Society of America Journal  55, 1112–1123.

CrossRef |

Schnitzer M (1982) Organic matter characterization. In ‘Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2. Chemical and Microbiological Properties’. (Eds AL Page, RH Miller, DR Keeney) pp. 581–594. (Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI)

Serrasolsas I , Khanna PK (1995) Changes in heated and autoclaved forest soils of southeast Australia: I. Carbon and nitrogen. Biogeochemistry  29, 3–24.
CrossRef |

Skjemstad JO, Reicosky CC, Wilts AR , McGowan JA (2002) Charcoal carbon in US agricultural soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal  66, 1249–1255.

CAS | | CrossRef |

Stevenson FJ (1994) ‘Humus Chemistry.’ (Wiley: New York)

Swift RS (1996) Organic matter characterization. In ‘Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 3. Chemical Methods’. (Eds DL Sparks, AL Page, PA Helmke, RH Loeppert, PN Soltanpour, MA Tabatabai, CT Johnson, ME Sumner) pp. 1018–1020. (Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI)

Thies WG, Westlind DJ , Loewen M (2005) Season of prescribed burn in ponderosa pine forests in eastern Oregon: impacts on pine mortality. International Journal of Wildland Fire  14, 223–231.
CrossRef |

Thurman EM (1985) ‘Organic Geochemistry of Natural Waters.’ (Kluwer Academic Publishers Group: Boston, MA)

Tiedemann AR, Klemmedson JO , Bull EL (2000) Solution of forest health problems with prescribed fire: are forest productivity and wildlife at risk? Forest Ecology and Management  127, 1–18.
CrossRef |

Ulery AL, Graham RC , Amrhein C (1993) Wood-ash composition and soil pH following intense burning. Soil Science  156, 358–364.
CrossRef | CAS |

Van Miegroet H, Zabowski D, Smith CT, Lundkvist H (1994) Review of measurement techniques in site productivity studies. In ‘Impacts of Harvesting on Long-term Site Productivity’. (Eds WJ Dyck, DW Cole, NB Comerford) pp. 287–362. (Chapman and Hall: London)

Yonebayashi K , Hattori T (1990) A new fractionation of soil humic acids by adsorption chromatography. Geoderma  47, 327–336.
CrossRef | CAS |



Export Citation Cited By (10)