Water repellency of air-dried and sieved samples from limestone soils in central Portugal collected before and after prescribed fire
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Soil water repellency (SWR) in Mediterranean sub-humid environments is poorly studied in soils derived from basic bedrock. This study addressed this gap by comparing SWR in soil samples collected before/after a prescribed burning in a Mediterranean shrubland overlaying limestone.
Sampling was performed on two adjacent slopes (NE/SW) underneath Quercus coccifera, Pistacia lentiscus, Arbutus unedo shrubs, and on bare inter-patches, at two depths (0–2 and 2–5 cm). Samples were sieved at <0.25, 0.25–1, 1–2 and <2 mm and SWR was assessed through the Water Drop Penetration Time (WDPT) in each fraction. Samples were analysed for pH, AS, CaCO3 and SOM.
SWR was present before fire, mainly in the <0.25 and 0.25–1 mm fractions at 0–2 cm, which could be explained by SOM (amount and chemical composition). Persistence varied between the two slopes (NE > SW) and the four patches (Arbutus unedo > Pistacia lentiscus ≈ Quercus coccifera > Bare). The low-severity fire slightly increased SWR but did not affect the above-mentioned pre-fire differences.
The wax and resins from different shrub species have implications for SWR persistence on the finer soil fractions. Prescribed fire increased the severity of SWR at surface but also its frequency at the subsurface layer.
KeywordsSoil water repellency Soil fractions Texture Plant-/inter-patches Mediterranean Shrubland Prescribed fire
Soil water repellency
Soil moisture content
Water drop penetration time
Soil organic matter
The authors are grateful for the financial support from Agreement Generalitat Valenciana-CSIC in CIDE (2005020112) “Impacto de los incendios forestales repetidos sobre los procesos de erosión hídrica del suelo y la recuperación de la cubierta vegetal. Seguimiento y evaluación en una estación permanente de campo”. We also thank to CERNAS (in Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra) and CESAM (in University of Aveiro) for the technical support performed through the DESIRE project (FP6-2005-Global-4. Combat land degradation and Desertification). People involved in floristic/soil surveys were Pedro Bingre de Amaral, Marta López, Erica Castanheira, Manuela Carreiras, Tanya Esteves, Celia Bento, Vitor Tomé and Simon Drooger. The main author also thanks to Ana Vasques, Bruno Moreira, Maruxa Malvar, Sergio Prats, and the anonymous referees for their useful comments that mostly improved this manuscript. Acknowledgements are extended to the FLOPEN forestry association, headed by Ing. João Ribeiro, for the prescribed fire management.
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