Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 5, pp 4395–4405 | Cite as

Wildfire effects on ash composition and biological properties of soils in forest–steppe ecosystems of Russia

  • E. MaksimovaEmail author
  • E. Abakumov
Original Article


Soils affected by forest wildfires in Russia in 2010 were studied in postfire and unburned plots near Togljatty city, Samara region. The microbial biomass, basal respiration of the soil, and the ash composition dynamics were investigated under the effect of forest fires during the 3 years at the site of a surface forest fire, a crown forest fire site, and a site unaffected by fire as a control (unburned). Soil samples were collected at 0–15 cm. The analytic data obtained showed that wildfires led to changes in the chemical composition of soil horizons and increased their ash content. Fires led to the accumulation of nutrients (P and K) in the fine earth of the soil. Thus, when the upper horizons are burned, the ash arriving on the soil surface enriches it with nutrients. The calcium content was also increased, leading to an alkaline pH of the upper soil horizons. The values of nutrients decreased as a result of leaching out with a precipitation during the second year after the fire. The unburned soils were characterized by the greatest values of microbial biomass carbon in the top horizon and the biggest values of basal respiration, whereas both parameters decline in postfire soils. Nevertheless, this influence did not extend to depths >10 cm. Thus, the effects of fire on soils were recognized as a decrease of microbiological activity.


Soils Wildfires Postfire soil development Biological soil properties Ash composition 



The authors offer their thanks to the director of the Institute of Ecology of the Volga River Basin of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEVB RAS), Dr. professor G. S. Rosenberg, to the deputy director for science of IEVB RAS, Dr. professor S. V. Saksonov, and to Dr. S. A. Senator for their help in the organization of work and research support. This work was supported by the Russian foundation for Basic research, projects 12-04-33017, 13-04-90766, 14-04-32132, and 15-34-20844 and by the Saint-Petersburg University research grant


  1. Abakumov EV, Gagarina EI (2008) The soils of Samara Luka: diversity, genesis, protection. St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, p 190Google Scholar
  2. Abakumov EV, Fujitake N, Kosaki T (2009) Humus and humic acids of Luvisol and Cambisol of Jiguli ridges, Samara Region, Russia, Applied and Environmental Soil Science, Article ID 671359Google Scholar
  3. Aleksandrovsky AL (2007) Pyrogenic formation of carbonates: results of soil-archaeological researches. Eurasian Soil Sci 5:517–524Google Scholar
  4. Anderson TH, Domsch KH (1985a) Determination of ecophysiological maintenance carbon requirements of soil microorganisms in a dormant state. Soil Biol Biochem 9(1):81–89Google Scholar
  5. Anderson TH, Domsch KH (1985b) Maintenance carbon requirements of actively metabolizing microbial populations under in situ conditions. Soil Biol Biochem 17:197–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arocena JM, Opio C (2003) Prescribed fire-induced changes in properties of sub-boreal forest soils. Geoderma 113:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baath E, Frostegard A, Pennanen T, Fritze H (1995) Microbial community structure and pH response in relation to soil organic matter quality in wood-ash fertilized, clear-cut or burned coniferous forest soils. Soil Biol Biochem 25:229–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bezkorovainaya IN, Tarasov PA, Ivanov GA, Bogorodskaya AV, Krasnoshchekova EN (2007) Nitric fund of sandy podzols after controlled burning of pine forests of central Siberia. Eurasian Soil Sci 6:775–783Google Scholar
  9. Bodí MB, Doerr SH, Cerdà A, Mataix-Solera J (2012) Hydrological effects of a layer of vegetation ash on underlying wettable and water repellent soil. Geoderma 191:14–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bodí MB, Martin DA, Balfour VN, Santín C, Doerr SH, Pereira P, Cerdà A, Mataix-Solera J (2014) Wildland fire ash: production, composition and eco-hydro-geomorphic effects. Earth-Sci Rev 130:103–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cerdà A, Doerr SH (2008) The effect of ash and needle cover on surface runoff and erosion in the immediate post-fire period. Catena 74:256–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Certini G (2005) Effects of fire on properties of forest soils: a review. Oecologia 143:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Certini G (2013) Fire as a soil-forming factor. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-013-0418-2 Google Scholar
  14. Cleland TM (2004) The Munsell Color System. A practical description with suggestions for its use, 3rd edn. Kessinger Publishing, WhitefishGoogle Scholar
  15. DeBano LF (1991) The effect of fire on soil properties. In: Harvey Alan E, Neuenschwander Leon F, compilers. Proceedings-management and productivity of western-montane forest soils; 1990 April 10–12, Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-280. Ogden, UT: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, pp 151–156Google Scholar
  16. Diaz-Ravina M, Prieto A, Baath E (1996) Bacterial activity in a forest soil heating and organic amendments measured by the thymidine and leucine incorporation techniques. Soil Biol Biochem 28:419–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doerr S, Cerdà A (2005) Fire effects on soil system functioning: new insights and future challenges. Int J Wildland Fire 14(4):339–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Erich MS, Ohno T (1992a) Phosphorus availability to corn from wood ash-amended soils. Water Air Soil Pollut 64:475–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Erich MS, Ohno T (1992b) Titrimetric determination of calcium carbonate equivalence of wood ash. Analyst 117:993–995CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gonzalez-Perez JA, González-Vila FJ, Almendros G, Knicker H (2004) The effect of fire on soil organic matter—a review. Environ Int 30:855–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guénon R, Vennetier M, Dupuy N, Roussos S, Pailler A, Gros R (2013) Trends in recovery of Mediterranean soil chemical properties and microbial activities after infrequent and frequent wildfires. Land Degrad Dev 24:115–128. doi: 10.1002/ldr.1109 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Isaev AS (2011) Forest as a national treasure of Russia. Age Global 1:148–158Google Scholar
  23. Jenkinson DS, Powlson DS (1976) The effects of biocidal treatment on metabolism in soil. V. A method for measuring soil biomass. Soil Biol Biochem 8:209–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jensen M, Michelsen A, Gashaw M (2001) Responses in plant, soil inorganic and microbial nutrient pools to experimental fire, ash and biomass addition in a woodland savanna. Oecologia 128:85–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kim EJ, Oh JE, Chang YS (2003) Effects of forest fire on the level and distribution of PCDD/Fs and PAHs in soil. Sci Total Environ 311:177–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kutiel P, Shaviv A (1989) Effects of simulated forest fire on the availability of N and P in Mediterranean soils. Plant Soil 1:57–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. León J, Bodí MB, Cerdà A, Badía D (2013) Effects of ash type and thickness on the temporal variation of runoff from a calcareous soil from SE Spain. Geoderma 209–210:143–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maslyakov VN (2011) Speech of head of Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance at “The national meeting on the implementation of powers in the field of the forest relations”. Available at: Accessed 20 Feb 2007
  29. Mataix-Solera J, Guerrero C, García-Orenes F, Bárcenas GM, Torres MP (2009) Forest fire effects on soil microbiology. In: Cerdà A, Robichaud P (eds) Fire effects on soils and restoration strategies. Science Publishers Inc, Enfield, pp 133–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mataix-Solera J, Cerdà A, Arcenegui V, Jordán A, Zavala LM (2011) Fire effects on soil aggregation: a review. Earth-Sci Rev 109:44–60. doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2011.08.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Munsell AH (1912) A pigment color system and notation. Am J Psychol (Univ Illinois Press) 23(2):236–244Google Scholar
  32. Neary DG, Ryan KC, DeBano LF (2005) Wildland fire in ecosystems. Effects of fire on soil and water, Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 4. Ogden, UT: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, p 250Google Scholar
  33. Nosin VA et al. (1949) Soils of Kujbyshev region, OGIZ, Kujbyshev, p 383Google Scholar
  34. 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 4:381–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pereira P, Úbeda X, Outeiro L, Martin D (2009) Factor analysis applied to fire temperature effects on water quality. In: Gomez E, Alvarez K (eds) Forest fires: detection, suppression and prevention. Series Natural Disaster Research, Prediction and Mitigation, Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp 273–285Google Scholar
  36. Pereira P, Úbeda X, Martin DA (2012) Fire severity effects on ash chemical composition and extractable elements. Geoderma 191:105–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pereira P, Cerdà A, Úbeda X, Mataix-Solera J, Martin D, Jordán A, Burguet M (2013a) Spatial models for monitoring the spatio-temporal evolution of ashes after fire—a case study of a burnt grassland in Lithuania. Solid Earth 4:153–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pereira P, Cerdà A, Úbeda X, Mataix-Solera J, Arcenegui V, Zavala LM (2013b) Modelling the impacts of wildfire on ash thickness in a short-term period. Land Degrad Dev 26(2):180–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Perepechina UI (2009) Fire effects on forests of Kurgan region, Forests in Russia in the XXI Century: Proceedings of the Second International Scientific and 20 Practical Internet conference. November, 2009, Ed. authors; Federal Agency of Education State Educational Institution of Higher Education “Saint Petersburg State Forest Technical University”, St. Petersburg, Russia, p 249Google Scholar
  40. Raison RJ (1979) Modification of the soil environment by vegetation fires, with particular reference to nitrogen transformations: a review. Plant Soil 51:73–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Robichaud PR (2000) Fire effects on infiltration rates after prescribed fire in Northern Rocky Mountain forests, USA. J Hydrol 231:220–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sapozhnikov AP, Karpachevskij LO, Il’ina LS (2001) Postfire soil formation in cedar broad-leaved forests. Trans Moscow Forest Inst Forestr J 1:132–165Google Scholar
  43. Shishov LL, Tonkonogov VD (2004) Classification and diagnostics of Russian soils. Soil institute of Dokuchayev, Moscow, p 341Google Scholar
  44. Shrestha HR (2009) Post-fire recovery of carbon and nitrogen in Sub-alpine soils of South-eastern Australia. Master thesis, Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne, Australia, p 169Google Scholar
  45. Skripnikova EV, Skripnikova MK (2013) Features of soil microbic development after influence of pyrogenic factor. Tambov State Univ J 18(3):905–909Google Scholar
  46. Snyman HA (2003) Short-term response of rangeland following an unplanned fire in terms of soil characteristics in a semiarid climate of South Africa. J Arid Environ 55:160–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Umer MI, Vankova AA (2011) Microbiological activity on a surface and within soil aggregates. Izvestiya Timiryazev Agric Acad 6:78–83Google Scholar
  48. Urusevskaja IS, Meshalkina JL, Hohlova OS (2000) Geographic and genetic features of luvisols’ humus status. Eurasian Soil Sci 11:1377–1390Google Scholar
  49. Vance ED, Brookes PC, Jenkinson DS (1987) An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C. Soil Biol Biochem 6:703–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vasil’eva DI, Baranova MN (2007) Natural resources of Samara region. Samara municipal managment institute, Samara, p 40Google Scholar
  51. Vorobyova LA (2006) Theory and practice of the chemical soil analysis. GEOS, Moscow, p 400Google Scholar
  52. Wang C, Wang G, Wang Y, Rashid R, Ma L, Hu L, Luo Y (2015) Fire alters vegetation and soil microbial community in alpine meadow. Land Degrad Dev. doi: 10.1002/ldr.2367 Google Scholar
  53. Williams S (1984) Official method of analysis of the association of official analytical chemists, Arlington. A.O.A.C, VAGoogle Scholar
  54. Woods SW, Balfour VN (2010) The effects of soil texture and ash thickness on the post-fire hydrological response from ash covered soils. J Hydrol 393:274–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. World reference base for soil resources (2006) World Soil Resources Reports No. 103. FAO, IUSS Working Group WRB, RomeGoogle Scholar
  56. Wuthrich C, Schaub D, Weber M, Marxer P, Conedera M (2002) Soil respiration and soil microbial biomass after fire in a sweet chestnut forest in southern Switzerland. Catena 48:201–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint-Petersburg State UniversitySaint-PetersburgRussian Federation
  2. 2.Institute of Ecology of Volga BasinTogliattiRussian Federation

Personalised recommendations