Litter Decomposition and Soil Respiration Responses to Fuel-Reduction Treatments in Piedmond Loblolly Pine Forests

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As part of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study, we measured the short-term effects of different fuel-management practices on leaf litter decomposition and soil respiration in loblolly pine stands on the upper Piedmont of South Carolina. These stands had been subjected to a factorial arrangement of experimental fuel-management treatments that included prescribed burning, selective thinning, and a combination of thinning and burning. First-year results indicated that decomposition of leaf litter was significantly slower in thinned stands than in burned or control stands, and that nitrogen dynamics were variable over time in thinned and burned stands relative to controls. Soil respiration was lower in burned stands than in control or thinned stands, possibly due to fire-induced reductions in potentially mineralizable carbon pools in the forest floor. These results suggest that carbon and nitrogen dynamics are significantly altered by thinning and burning, but these alterations are manifested in fundamentally different ways.

  • Citation: Callaham, Mac A., Jr.; Anderson, Peter H.; Waldrop, Thomas A.; Lione, Darren J.; Shelburne, Victor B. 2004. Litter Decomposition and Soil Respiration Responses to Fuel-Reduction Treatments in Piedmond Loblolly Pine Forests. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–71. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 25-29

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