The phosphorus-rich signature of fire in the soil–plant system

a global meta-analysis

Orpheus M. Butler, James Elser, Tom Lewis, Brendan Mackey, Chengrong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The biogeochemical and stoichiometric signature of vegetation fire may influence post-fire ecosystem characteristics and the evolution of plant ‘fire traits’. Phosphorus (P), a potentially limiting nutrient in many fire-prone environments, might be particularly important in this context; however, the effects of fire on P cycling often vary widely. We conducted a global-scale meta-analysis using data from 174 soil studies and 39 litter studies, and found that fire led to significantly higher concentrations of soil mineral P as well as significantly lower soil and litter carbon:P and nitrogen:P ratios. These results demonstrate that fire has a P-rich signature in the soil–plant system that varies with vegetation type. Further, they suggest that burning can ease P limitation and decouple the biogeochemical cycling of P, carbon and nitrogen. These effects resemble a transient reversion to an earlier stage of ecosystem development, and likely underpin at least some of fire's impacts on ecosystems and organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

meta-analysis
phosphorus
ecosystems
ecosystem
litter
soil
carbon
nitrogen
vegetation types
vegetation type
vegetation
nutrient
organisms
nutrients
mineral

Keywords

  • biogeochemistry
  • burning
  • ecosystem decline
  • fractionation
  • nutrient limitation
  • pedogenesis
  • stoichiometry
  • succession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

The phosphorus-rich signature of fire in the soil–plant system : a global meta-analysis. / Butler, Orpheus M.; Elser, James; Lewis, Tom; Mackey, Brendan; Chen, Chengrong.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 21, No. 3, 01.03.2018, p. 335-344.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Butler, Orpheus M. ; Elser, James ; Lewis, Tom ; Mackey, Brendan ; Chen, Chengrong. / The phosphorus-rich signature of fire in the soil–plant system : a global meta-analysis. In: Ecology Letters. 2018 ; Vol. 21, No. 3. pp. 335-344.
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