Aeolian nutrient fluxes following wildfire in sagebrush steppe: Implications for soil carbon storage

Biogeosciences
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Abstract

Pulses of aeolian transport following fire can profoundly affect the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in semi-arid and arid ecosystems. Our objective was to determine horizontal nutrient fluxes occurring in the saltation zone during an episodic pulse of aeolian transport that occurred following a wildfire in a semi-arid sagebrush steppe ecosystem in southern Idaho, USA. We also examined how temporal trends in nutrient fluxes were affected by changes in particle sizes of eroded mass as well as nutrient concentrations associated with different particle size classes. In the burned area, total carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) fluxes were as high as 235 g C m????'1 d????'1 and 19 g N m????'1 d????'1 during the first few months following fire, whereas C and N fluxes were negligible in an adjacent unburned area throughout the study. Temporal variation in C and N fluxes following fire was largely attributable to the redistribution of saltation-sized particles. Total N and organic C concentrations in the soil surface were significantly lower in the burned relative to the unburned area one year after fire. Our results show how an episodic pulse of aeolian transport following fire can affect the spatial distribution of soil C and N, which, in turn, can have important implications for soil C storage. These findings demonstrate how an ecological disturbance can exacerbate a geomorphic process and highlight the need for further research to better understand the role aeolian transport plays in the biogeochemical cycling of C and N in recently burned landscapes. ?? Author(s) 2011. CC Attribution 3.0 License.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Aeolian nutrient fluxes following wildfire in sagebrush steppe: Implications for soil carbon storage
Series title Biogeosciences
DOI 10.5194/bg-8-3649-2011
Volume 8
Issue 12
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Biogeosciences
First page 3649
Last page 3659