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Combustion properties of Bromus tectorum L.: influence of ecotype and growth under four CO2 concentrations

Author(s): Robert R. Blank, Robert H. White, Lewis H. Ziska
Year Published: 2006

We grew from seed the exotic invasive annual grass Bromus tectorum L., collected from three elevation ecotypes in northern Nevada, USA. Plants were exposed to four CO2 atmosphere concentrations: 270, 320, 370, and 420 umol mol-1. After harvest on day 87, above-ground tissue was milled, conditioned to 30% relative humidity, and combustion properties were measured using a cone calorimeter. Plants exposed to 270 umol mol-1 CO2 had significantly less total heat released than plants exposed to higher CO2 concentrations. Total heat released was least for the low-elevation ecotype, statistically similar for the mid-elevation ecotype, and significantly increased for the high-elevation ecotype. Plant attributes that significantly correlated with heat release included tissue concentrations of lignin, glucan, xylan, potassium, calcium, and manganese. The data suggest that a decline in tissue concentrations of lignin, xylan, and mineral constituents, as CO2 concentration increases from 270 umol mol-1 to higher levels, affects the combustion process. We suspect that as tissue concentrations of lignin and inorganics decline, char formation decreases, thereby allowing more complete combustion. Changes in combustion parameters of B. tectorum induced by different CO2 concentrations and elevation ecotype may be a strong consideration to understanding fire behaviors of the past, present, and future.

Citation: Blank, R. R.; White, Robert H.; Ziska, L. H. 2006. Combustion properties of Bromus tectorum L.: influence of ecotype and growth under four CO2 concentrations. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 15(2): 227-236.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire & Climate, Invasive Species, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order
Ecosystem(s): Ponderosa pine woodland/savanna, Juniper woodland, Mountain shrubland/wooded draw, Sagebrush steppe, Lower montane/foothills/valley grassland
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 11409
FRAMES RCS number: 3562
Record updated: May 24, 2018