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    Soils are fundamental to a healthy and functioning ecosystem. Therefore, forest land managers can greatly benefit from a more thorough understanding of the ecological impacts of fire and fuel management activities on the vital services soils provide. We present a summary of new research on fire effects and soils made possible through the Joint Fire Science Program and highlight management implications where applicable. Some responses were consistent across sites, whereas others were unique and may not easily be extrapolated to other sites. Selected findings include (1) postfire soil water repellency is most likely to occur in areas of high burn severity and is closely related to surface vegetation; (2) although wildfire has the potential to decrease the amount of carbon stored in soils, major changes in land use, such as conversion from forest to grasslands, present a much greater threat to carbon storage; (3) prescribed fires, which tend to burn less severely than wildfires and oftentimes have minor effects on soils, may nonetheless decrease species richness of certain types of fungi; and (4) early-season prescribed burns tend to have less impact than late-season burns on soil organisms, soil carbon, and other soil properties.

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    Erickson, Heather E.; White, Rachel. 2008. Soils under fire: soils research and the Joint Fire Science Program. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-759. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 17 p.


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    Soils, fire effects, prescribed fire, wildfire, soil carbon, soil organisms, water repellency, nutrients, forest restoration.

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