Long-term effects of post-fire restoration types on nitrogen mineralisation in a Dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii) forest in boreal China.

Affiliation

Key Laboratory of Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Management-Ministry of Education, College of Forestry, Northeast Forestry University, 26 Hexing Road, Harbin 150040, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Fire is an important disturbance agent in Chinese boreal forests but the long-term effects of wildfires on soil nitrogen (N) net mineralisation rates (Rmin) in natural versus human-assisted restorations are not well understood. In this study, we analysed upper (0-10cm) and lower layer (10-20cm) soil samples from natural restoration and afforestation plots in a Dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii) forest in north-eastern China 29years after a mega fire disturbance. Our results showed that the soil inorganic N (NH4+-N and NO3--N) pool of the upper and lower layers of the regenerated plots remained significantly lower than in unburned control plots. This suggests that the effects of a high burn severity fire on soil N availability were still significant almost 30years after the event. Restoration type (natural restoration versus afforestation) also had significant effects on upper layer soil N availability; compared with afforestation, natural restoration was more beneficial for the accumulation of soil inorganic N and the recovery of Rmin after fire disturbance. Specifically, the concentration of inorganic N and the mean Rmin in upper layer soils in the natural restoration plots were approximately 41% greater and 3.6 times greater, respectively, than in the afforestation plots. The differences in soil N availability between the two restoration types were attributed to differences in soil water content (SWC), soil microbial biomass nitrogen (MBN), and the recovery of vegetation after the fire disturbance. Our study demonstrates that natural restoration has proved more successful than afforestation in countering soil N losses in boreal forests in China resulting from a high burn severity fire disturbance.

Keywords

Afforestation,Fire disturbance,Inorganic N,Restoration,Soil N availability,

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