Plant and Soil

, Volume 337, Issue 1–2, pp 111–123 | Cite as

Effect of fires on soil nutrient availability in an open savanna in Central Brazil

  • Vânia Regina Pivello
  • Imma Oliveras
  • Heloísa Sinátora Miranda
  • Mundayatan Haridasan
  • Margarete Naomi Sato
  • Sérgio Tadeu Meirelles
Regular Article


Fire is common in savannas but its effects on soil are poorly understood. We analyzed long-term effects of fire on surface soil of an open Brazilian savanna (campo sujo) in plots submitted to different fire regimes during 18 years. The five fire regimes were: unburned, quadrennial fires in middle dry season, and biennial fires in early, middle or late dry season. Soil was collected during the wet and the middle dry season of 2008, and analyzed for pH, organic matter, total N, potential acidity, exchangeable cations and available P, S, Mn, Cu, Zn and Fe. We applied multivariate analysis to search for patterns related to fire regimes, and to local climate, fuel, and fire behavior. Spearman test was used to establish correlations between soil variables and the multivariate analysis gradient structure. Seasonal differences were tested using t-test. We found evidence of long-term fire effects: the unburned plot was segregated mainly by lower soil pH; the quadrennial plot was also segregated by lower soil pH and higher amount of exchangeable cations; the time of burning during the dry season in biennial plots did not significantly affect soil availability of nutrients. Differences in elements amounts due to the season of soil sampling (wet or dry) were higher than due to the effect of fires. Higher availability of nutrients in the soil during the wet season was probably related to higher nutrient inputs via rainfall and higher microbial activity.


Brazilian savanna Cerrado Fire Soil nutrients Soil properties 



We wish to thank the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, Proc. 2006/61570-5) and the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for financial support. We are also grateful to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) staff who greatly contributed to the project logistics, and to three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Dr. Imma Oliveras was granted with a Beatriu de Pinós fellowship from the Generalitat de Catalunya (Spain).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vânia Regina Pivello
    • 1
  • Imma Oliveras
    • 1
  • Heloísa Sinátora Miranda
    • 2
  • Mundayatan Haridasan
    • 2
  • Margarete Naomi Sato
    • 2
  • Sérgio Tadeu Meirelles
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

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