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Do Soil Chemical Changes Contribute to the Dominance of Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica) in Surface Fire-Affected Forests?

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Butler, O. M., Lewis, T. and Chen, C. (2021) Do Soil Chemical Changes Contribute to the Dominance of Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica) in Surface Fire-Affected Forests? Fire, 4 (2). ISSN 2571-6255


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4020023


Imperata cylindrica is a perennial grass that often proliferates in fire-affected forests. Recent fire events have been consistently associated with a lowering of soil nitrogen (N) to phosphorus (P) ratios. Thus, I. cylindrica might have a tendency toward P-limited growth and/or tolerance for low soil N availability that confers a competitive advantage post-fire. We contrasted soil and I. cylindrica chemistry between recently burned and unburned areas in eastern Australia. Imperata cylindrica foliar N:P ratios were 21% lower in burned areas than in unburned areas, reflecting an increase in the uptake of P, but not N, post-fire, consistent with P-limitation. We then grew I. cylindrica seedlings in soils with differing fire-exposure histories and subjected them to various resource amendments (including N and P addition). Survival of I. cylindrica seedlings was not affected by the fire-exposure history of soil, but was reduced by 66% through N-addition. Soil fire history did not significantly affect I. cylindrica growth, but addition of P greatly enhanced I. cylindrica growth, particularly on unburned soils. Our results indicate that the association between I. cylindrica and forest fire regime could be facilitated, in part, by the short-term positive effect of fire on soil phosphorus and the long-term positive effect of fire-exclusion on soil nitrogen, particularly on well-weathered soils.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Keywords:burning stoichiometry nutrient limitation phosphorus nitrogen alang-alang cogongrass fire weed
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil chemistry
Forestry > Research. Experimentation
Forestry > Forest soils
Forestry > Conservation and protection
Live Archive:03 Jun 2021 05:21
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:46

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