Forest soil and vegetation characteristics in two forest types following wildfire in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
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A wildfire of variable intensity occurred in mid-July of 1988 in the Shenandoah National Park and adjacent private lands. This study was established to measure post-fire forest soil and vegetation characteristics in both the mixed pine and mixed oak forest types occurring on Dovel Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Vegetation and soil results represent one (1989) and two (1990) growing seasons following fire occurrence in the mixed pine forest type, whereas only second year results are reported for the mixed oak forest type.
Forest floor and mineral soil parameters differed among burn levels and followed similar trends for both forest types. Forest floor depth and weight were significantly less on low and high burn areas as compared to unburned areas. Low intensity fires removed the Oi-Oe layer while leaving the Oa layer relatively intact. Conversely, high intensity fifes resulted in the consumption of the entire forest floor. Total carbon, nitrogen, and nutrient differences between low and unburned areas for the entire forest floor (Oi-Oe + Oa) were negligible. However, loss of these constituents were much greater following high intensity fifes. Differences in the surface 10 cm of mineral soil were also detected following following high intensity fifes. Differences in the sulface 10 cm of mineral soil were also detected following low and high intensity fires. Mineral soil acidity was lower while exchangeable cation concentrations were higher in burned areas compared to unburned areas. Total carbon and nitrogen levels were higher in low burn areas, whereas total carbon and nitrogen levels were lower on high bum areas. Inorganic nitrogen levels were higher in both low and high burn areas compared to unburned areas.
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