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Long-term frequent fires do not decrease topsoil carbon and nitrogen in an Afromontane grassland

Findlay, Nicola and Manson, Alan and Cromsigt, Joris and Gordijn, Paul and Nixon, Cathy and Rietkerk, Max and Thibaud, Guy and Wassen, Martin J. and te Beest, Mariska (2022). Long-term frequent fires do not decrease topsoil carbon and nitrogen in an Afromontane grassland. African Journal of Range and Forage Science. 39 :1 , 44-55
[Research article]

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Abstract

Fire has been an integral evolutionary force shaping and maintaining grassy biomes, such as the Afromontane grasslands of South Africa. Afromontane grasslands represent a large carbon reservoir, but it is uncertain how fire affects their long-term C storage. We investigated the effect of fire regime on soil organic C and N (SOC; SON) in a long-term (39-year) burning experiment in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park, South Africa. We compared SOC and SON sampled in 2004 and 2019 from six treatments differing in fire frequency (annual, biennial, five-year, infrequent) and season (spring, autumn). Average SOC increased significantly between 2004 and 2019. Average SON increased slightly, resulting in a significant increase in C:N ratio, indicating that soil organic matter is becoming less N-eutrophic. Importantly, burning annually in spring increased SOC and SON. This unexpected response is attributed to the aluandic (acidic, high organic matter) properties of Drakensberg soils. Burning in autumn did not increase SOC and SON. The lowest C stocks were observed in infrequently burnt plots. Average C sequestration across all fire treatments was 0.30 Mg ha(-1) y(-1). The observed increase in SOC under frequent fires is contrary to many findings from other studies in grassy ecosystems and notably driven by fire season.

Authors/Creators:Findlay, Nicola and Manson, Alan and Cromsigt, Joris and Gordijn, Paul and Nixon, Cathy and Rietkerk, Max and Thibaud, Guy and Wassen, Martin J. and te Beest, Mariska
Title:Long-term frequent fires do not decrease topsoil carbon and nitrogen in an Afromontane grassland
Series Name/Journal:African Journal of Range and Forage Science
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:39
Number:1
Page range:44-55
Number of Pages:12
Publisher:TAYLOR AND FRANCIS LTD
ISSN:1022-0119
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:fire regime, montane grassland, soil
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116262
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116262
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.2989/10220119.2021.2016966
Web of Science (WoS)000755422000001
ID Code:27254
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:04 Mar 2022 15:35
Metadata Last Modified:04 Mar 2022 15:41

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