High-frequency fire alters soil and plant chemistry but does not lead to nitrogen-limited growth of Eucalyptus pilularis seedlings

Orpheus M. Butler, Mehran Rezaei Rashti, Tom Lewis, James Elser, Chengrong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and aims: Vegetation fire often raises levels of soil phosphorus (P) relative to those of nitrogen (N), while long-term fire exclusion is associated with accumulation of soil N and depletion of soil available P. Thus, high-frequency fire regimes might trigger N-limited plant growth in otherwise P-limited plant communities. Methods: We used soils from a long-term prescribed burning trial to grow Eucalyptus pilularis under several nutrient amendment conditions. We measured seedling growth, soil and plant chemistry, and root enzyme activities to assess nutrient status. Results: Biennially-burned (2yB) soils had higher labile P concentrations than long-unburned (NB) soils, and lower total and labile N:P ratios. This did not correspond to N-limited growth or stimulate seedling N demand. Seedlings grown with addition of N, P and micro-nutrients in combination (μMax treatment) attained 68% more biomass than unfertilised seedlings. Addition of P resulted in higher total biomass than addition of N, and similar biomass to the μMax treatment, suggesting partially P-limited growth. Plants grown in 2yB soils tended to be enriched with P, K, Ca and Mg compared to those grown in NB or 4yB soils. Conclusions: High-frequency prescribed burning depletes soil N relative to P, but this does not trigger a shift toward N-limited growth of E. pilularis seedlings. Instead, E. pilularis seedlings appear to grow under partial P-limitation which persists regardless of their soil’s fire history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant and Soil
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Eucalyptus pilularis
phytochemistry
plant biochemistry
soil chemistry
seedling
seedlings
nitrogen
soil
prescribed burning
biomass
nutrients
fire history
nutrient
fire regime
seedling growth
enzyme activity
plant community
plant communities

Keywords

  • Ash deposition
  • Chitinase
  • Phosphatase
  • Prescribed burning
  • Stoichiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

High-frequency fire alters soil and plant chemistry but does not lead to nitrogen-limited growth of Eucalyptus pilularis seedlings. / Butler, Orpheus M.; Rezaei Rashti, Mehran; Lewis, Tom; Elser, James; Chen, Chengrong.

In: Plant and Soil, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Background and aims: Vegetation fire often raises levels of soil phosphorus (P) relative to those of nitrogen (N), while long-term fire exclusion is associated with accumulation of soil N and depletion of soil available P. Thus, high-frequency fire regimes might trigger N-limited plant growth in otherwise P-limited plant communities. Methods: We used soils from a long-term prescribed burning trial to grow Eucalyptus pilularis under several nutrient amendment conditions. We measured seedling growth, soil and plant chemistry, and root enzyme activities to assess nutrient status. Results: Biennially-burned (2yB) soils had higher labile P concentrations than long-unburned (NB) soils, and lower total and labile N:P ratios. This did not correspond to N-limited growth or stimulate seedling N demand. Seedlings grown with addition of N, P and micro-nutrients in combination (μMax treatment) attained 68{\%} more biomass than unfertilised seedlings. Addition of P resulted in higher total biomass than addition of N, and similar biomass to the μMax treatment, suggesting partially P-limited growth. Plants grown in 2yB soils tended to be enriched with P, K, Ca and Mg compared to those grown in NB or 4yB soils. Conclusions: High-frequency prescribed burning depletes soil N relative to P, but this does not trigger a shift toward N-limited growth of E. pilularis seedlings. Instead, E. pilularis seedlings appear to grow under partial P-limitation which persists regardless of their soil’s fire history.",
keywords = "Ash deposition, Chitinase, Phosphatase, Prescribed burning, Stoichiometry",
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T1 - High-frequency fire alters soil and plant chemistry but does not lead to nitrogen-limited growth of Eucalyptus pilularis seedlings

AU - Butler, Orpheus M.

AU - Rezaei Rashti, Mehran

AU - Lewis, Tom

AU - Elser, James

AU - Chen, Chengrong

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - Background and aims: Vegetation fire often raises levels of soil phosphorus (P) relative to those of nitrogen (N), while long-term fire exclusion is associated with accumulation of soil N and depletion of soil available P. Thus, high-frequency fire regimes might trigger N-limited plant growth in otherwise P-limited plant communities. Methods: We used soils from a long-term prescribed burning trial to grow Eucalyptus pilularis under several nutrient amendment conditions. We measured seedling growth, soil and plant chemistry, and root enzyme activities to assess nutrient status. Results: Biennially-burned (2yB) soils had higher labile P concentrations than long-unburned (NB) soils, and lower total and labile N:P ratios. This did not correspond to N-limited growth or stimulate seedling N demand. Seedlings grown with addition of N, P and micro-nutrients in combination (μMax treatment) attained 68% more biomass than unfertilised seedlings. Addition of P resulted in higher total biomass than addition of N, and similar biomass to the μMax treatment, suggesting partially P-limited growth. Plants grown in 2yB soils tended to be enriched with P, K, Ca and Mg compared to those grown in NB or 4yB soils. Conclusions: High-frequency prescribed burning depletes soil N relative to P, but this does not trigger a shift toward N-limited growth of E. pilularis seedlings. Instead, E. pilularis seedlings appear to grow under partial P-limitation which persists regardless of their soil’s fire history.

AB - Background and aims: Vegetation fire often raises levels of soil phosphorus (P) relative to those of nitrogen (N), while long-term fire exclusion is associated with accumulation of soil N and depletion of soil available P. Thus, high-frequency fire regimes might trigger N-limited plant growth in otherwise P-limited plant communities. Methods: We used soils from a long-term prescribed burning trial to grow Eucalyptus pilularis under several nutrient amendment conditions. We measured seedling growth, soil and plant chemistry, and root enzyme activities to assess nutrient status. Results: Biennially-burned (2yB) soils had higher labile P concentrations than long-unburned (NB) soils, and lower total and labile N:P ratios. This did not correspond to N-limited growth or stimulate seedling N demand. Seedlings grown with addition of N, P and micro-nutrients in combination (μMax treatment) attained 68% more biomass than unfertilised seedlings. Addition of P resulted in higher total biomass than addition of N, and similar biomass to the μMax treatment, suggesting partially P-limited growth. Plants grown in 2yB soils tended to be enriched with P, K, Ca and Mg compared to those grown in NB or 4yB soils. Conclusions: High-frequency prescribed burning depletes soil N relative to P, but this does not trigger a shift toward N-limited growth of E. pilularis seedlings. Instead, E. pilularis seedlings appear to grow under partial P-limitation which persists regardless of their soil’s fire history.

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KW - Phosphatase

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KW - Stoichiometry

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