Recovering Lost Ground : Effects of Soil Burn Intensity on Nutrients and Ectomycorrhiza Communities of Ponderosa Pine Seedlings Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/7h149s11r

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  • Fuel accumulation and climate shifts are predicted to increase the frequency of high-severity fires in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws) forests of central Oregon. The combustion of fuels containing large downed wood can result in intense soil heating, alteration of soil properties, and mortality of microbes. Previous studies show ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) improve ponderosa seedling establishment after fire but did not compare EMF communities at different levels of soil burn intensity in a field setting. For this study, soil burn intensity effects on nutrients and EMF communities were compared at Pringle Falls Experimental Forest, La Pine, Oregon. Twelve replicate sites were used, each with three treatments: high intensity soil burn (HB), low intensity soil burn (LB), and unburned control (UB). The combustion of downed logs stacked together, simulating a large downed log, was used to apply HB treatments. Broadcast burning of pre-existing ground fuels was used to apply LB treatments. Temperatures lethal to fungi were recorded at 0-cm, 5-cm, and 10-cm depths in HB soils and 0-cm depth in LB soils. Ponderosa pine seedlings planted post-burn were harvested after four months for EMF root tip analysis. We found: a) greater differences in soil nutrients in HB soils compared to LB and UB soils; b) no differences in EMF richness and diversity; c) weak differences in community composition based on relative abundance between UB and burn treatments; and d) EMF composition in HB and LB treatments correlated with low carbon and organic matter contents. These results confirm the combustion of large downed wood can alter the soil environment beneath it. However, an EMF community similar to LB soils recolonized HB soils within one growing season. We theorize that quick initiation of EMF communities is possible depending on the size of high burn patches, proximity of low and unburned soil, and survival of nearby hosts. The importance of incorporating mixed fire effects in fuel management practices will help to provide EMF refugia for ponderosa pine forest recovery and regeneration.
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