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Effects of fire and three fire-fighting chemicals on main soil properties, plant nutrient content and vegetation growth and cover after 10 years.

AuthorsFernández-Fernández, M.; Gómez-Rey, M. X.; González Prieto, Serafín Jesús
Keywordsflame retardants
trace elements
Issue Date2015
CitationScience of the Total Environment 515-516: 92-100 (2015)
AbstractThe study addresses a knowledge-gap in the long-term ecological consequences of fire and fire-fighting chemicals. Ten years after a prescribed fire and the application of three fire-fighting chemicals, their effects on the soil-plant system were evaluated. Five treatments were established: unburnt soils (US) and burnt soils treated with water alone (BS), foaming agent (BS+Fo), Firesorb (BS+Fi) and ammonium polyphosphate (BS+Ap). Soils (0-2 cm depth) and foliar material of shrubs (Erica umbellata, Pterospartum tridentatum and Ulex micranthus) and trees (Pinus pinaster) were analysed for total N, 15N, and soil-available and plant total macronutrients and trace elements. Soil pH, NH4 +-N and NO3 --N; pine basal diameter and height; and shrub cover and height were also measured. Compared with US plots, burnt soils had less nitrates and more Mo. Although differences were not always significant, BS+Ap had the highest levels of soil available P, Na and Al. Plants from BS+Ap plots had higher values of 15N (P. pinaster and E. umbellata), P (all species), Na (P. tridentatum and U. micranthus) and Mg (E. umbellata and P. tridentatum) than other treatments; while K in plants from BS+Ap plots was the highest among treatments for P. pinaster and the lowest for the shrubs. Pines in US plots were higher and wider than in burnt treatments, except for BS+Ap, where the tallest and widest trees were found, although half of them were either death (the second highest mortality after BS+Fi) or had a distorted trunk. BS+Ap was the treatment with strongest effects on plants, showing E. umbellata the lowest coverage and height, P. tridentatum the highest coverage, U. micranthus one of the lowest coverages and being the only treatment where Genista triacanthos was absent. Consequently, it is concluded that both fire and ammonium polyphosphate application had significant effects on the soil-plant system after 10 years.
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