Soil System Sciences

Monday paper: Grassland fire effect on soil organic carbon reservoirs in a semiarid environment

Novara, A., Gristina, L., Rühl, J., Pasta, S., D’Angelo, G., La Mantia, T., Pereira, P. 2013. Grassland fire effect on soil organic carbon reservoirs in a semiarid environment. Solid Earth 4, 381-385. DOI: 10.5194/se-4-381-2013


The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of an experimental fire used for grassland management on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. The study was carried out on Hyparrhenia hirta (L.) Stapf (Hh) grassland and Ampelodesmos mauritanicus (Desf.) T. Durand & Schinz (Am) grasslands located in the north of Sicily. Soil samples were collected at 0–5 cm before and after the experimental fire, and SOC was measured. During the grassland fire, soil surface temperature was monitored. Biomass of both grasses was analysed in order to determine dry weight and its chemical composition. The results showed that SOC varied significantly with vegetation type, while it is not affected in the short term by grassland fire. Am grassland stored more SOC compared with Hhgrassland thanks to lower content in the biomass of the labile carbon pool. No significant difference was observed in SOC before and after fire, which could be caused by several factors: first, in both grassland types the measured soil temperature during fire was low due to thin litter layers; second, in a semiarid environment, a higher mineralization rate results in a lower soil carbon labile pool; and third, the SOC stored in the finest soil fractions, physically protected, is not affected by fire.

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Solid Earth (SE) is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of multidisciplinary research on the composition, structure and dynamics of the Earth from the surface to the deep interior at all spatial and temporal scales. More at Solid Earth hompage.

Antonio Jordán is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Seville and coordinator of the MED Soil Research Group. Antonio’s research focusses on rainfall-induced soil erosion processes, the effects of wildfires on soil properties and soil degradation in Mediterranean areas. He is an active members of the Soil System Sciences (SSS) Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), which coordinates the scientific programme on soil sciences.