Searing the rhizosphere: belowground impacts of prescribed fires.Author(s): Jonathan Thompson
Source: Science Findings 82. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p
Publication Series: Science Findings
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionA century of fire suppression has resulted in dense fuel loads within the dry pine forests of eastern Oregon . To alleviate the risk of stand-replacing wildfire, forest managers are using prescribed fire and thinning treatments. Until recently, the impact of these fuel treatments on soil productivity has been largely unknown. Such information is essential for making sound management decisions about the successful reintroduction of fire to the ecosystem to retain biodiversity of soil fungi and achieve the desired future condition of large ponderosa pines with low fuel loads.
In a recent pair of studies, led by researchers at the PNW Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, novel molecular techniques were utilized to investigate the response of soil ecosystems to prescribed burning and thinning. The research compared impacts of the season of burn and various combinations of fuel-reducing treatments. Results suggest that overly severe fires can damage soil productivity and that less intense fires can be used to gradually reduce accumulations of fuel . The findings are currently being implemented in decisions about forest management and contribute important new information to the science.
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CitationThompson, Jonathan. 2006. Searing the rhizosphere: belowground impacts of prescribed fires. Science Findings 82. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p
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