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

Effects of fire regimes on herbaceous biomass and nutrient dynamics in the Brazilian savanna

Immaculada Oliveras A C D , Sergio T. Meirelles A , Valter L. Hirakuri B , Cenira R. Freitas B , Heloisa S. Miranda B and Vânia R. Pivello A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, Rua do Matão, Travessa 14, 05508-090, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

B Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasíla, Asa Norte PO Box 04457, 70919-970, Brasília, DF, Brazil.

C Present address: Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, OX13QY Oxford, UK.

D Corresponding author. Email: imma.oliveras@ouce.ox.ac.uk

International Journal of Wildland Fire 22(3) 368-380 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF10136
Submitted: 30 November 2010  Accepted: 24 July 2012   Published: 3 October 2012

Abstract

This study explores the long-term effects of fire treatments on biomass and nutrient pools in an open savanna from Central Brazil. Treatments included early, middle and late dry season burns every 2 years, a middle dry season burn every 4 years, and protection from fire on five 4-ha plots. We quantified aboveground biomass of graminoids and forbs/sub-shurbs, and their nutrient concentrations and stocks in both dry and wet seasons, and below-ground biomass down to 30-cm depth. We found strong differences between wet and dry season, with biomass and nutrient concentrations being highest in the wet season, across all fire treatments. Fire treatments had significant effects on plant nutrient stocks and root distribution, although total biomass was not affected. Concentrations of the most volatile nutrients (N, S, K and P) were higher in the herbaceous aboveground biomass of the quadrennial and the unburnt plots, suggesting that increases in fire frequency would reduce the amount of nutrients in aboveground biomass and increase the concentration of fine roots at the soil surface. Results highlight the role of fire in maintaining community dynamics in the Brazilian savanna. Overall, the quadrennial burn appears to be the optimal fire regime in open Cerrado vegetation.

Additional keywords: aboveground biomass, belowground biomass, Cerrado, fire frequency, fire season, forbs, graminoids, root distribution.


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