Original Paper


, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 1101-1113

First online:

Fuel treatment effects on soil chemistry and foliar physiology of three coniferous species at the Teakettle Experimental Forest, California, USA

  • Rakesh MinochaAffiliated withUSDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station Email author 
  • , Swathi A. TurlapatiAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire
  • , Stephanie LongAffiliated withUSDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station
  • , Malcolm NorthAffiliated withUSDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station

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A full factorial design crossing overstory (O) and understory (U) thinning and prescribed burning (B) was started at Teakettle Experimental Forest, California, in 2001 with the aim of achieving shifts in species composition to favor fire-resistant pines over fir. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the use of metabolic changes as early indicators for predicting the effects of these treatments on species-specific growth and long-term productivity of Pinus jeffreyi, Pinus lambertiana, and Abies concolor. Foliar polyamines, amino acids, soluble proteins and chlorophyll were quantified and related with foliar and soil chemistry. Most changes in soil chemistry occurred only with combined treatments (BU or BO). Changes in foliar metabolism were not driven by soil chemistry. In general, the pines were more sensitive to water stress as compared to fir as indicated by proline content. Understory thinning had no effect on any species. Both O and BO had species-specific effects on foliar amino acids, chlorophyll, soluble proteins, and inorganic ions. In addition, both O and BO were the most extreme thinning treatments for pines as they greatly increase the time needed to replenish carbon stocks. With the exception of some amino acids, B by itself had no major effects on foliar inorganic ions, chlorophyll content, and polyamines for any of the three species while BU caused a decrease in chlorophyll in white fir, suggesting a decline in photosynthetic capacity. These data point to BU as the best management option to specifically decrease the growth of fire-sensitive white fir without a major impact on pines.


Understory thinning Overstory thinning Jeffrey pine Sugar pine White fir Prescribed burn