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Earth and fire: forests rely on healthy soils for a well-rounded diet

Author(s): Elise LeQuire
Year Published: 2008

Historically, frequent low-intensity, dormant-season fire shaped the landscape across a variety of forests in the United States, from eastern hardwood and hardwood/conifer mixtures to western coniferous forests. Decades of fire exclusion have resulted in heavy fuel loads and increased threat of severe wildfire compared to historic conditions in most forest types and also resulted in changes in forest composition compared to historic conditions. The Fire and Fire Surrogates Study (FFS) is the first to apply a standard experimental design to compare thinning, thinning followed by prescribed fire, and prescribed fire alone across a wide spectrum of ecological and economic variables. An important, though often overlooked, component of forest health is the soil. Recent research is demonstrating that fire has complex effects on soil composition, and thus forest health, compared to mechanical or chemical treatments.

Citation: LeQuire, Elise. 2008.Earth and fire: forests rely on healthy soils for a well-rounded diet. Joint Fire Science Program Fire Science Brief. December 2008 (25): 1-6.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Ecological - Second Order, Soils, Fire Regime
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Research Brief or Fact Sheet
NRFSN number: 11081
FRAMES RCS number: 7934
Record updated: May 10, 2018