Plant and Soil

, Volume 424, Issue 1–2, pp 503–524 | Cite as

Effects of UV radiation and rainfall reduction on leaf and soil parameters related to C and N cycles of a Mediterranean shrubland before and after a controlled fire

  • L. Díaz-Guerra
  • D. Verdaguer
  • M. Gispert
  • G. Pardini
  • J. Font
  • J. A. González
  • E. Peruzzi
  • G. Masciandaro
  • L. Llorens
Regular Article


Background and aims

In the Mediterranean basin, reduction in cloudiness owing to climate change is expected to enhance solar ultraviolet (UV) levels and to decrease rainfall over the coming years, which would be accompanied by more frequent and intense wildfires. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of solar UV-A and UV-B radiation in C and N pools of a Mediterranean shrubland and whether drier conditions could alter this role before and after a fire.


Over a three-year field experiment, 18 plots of 9 m2 were subjected to three UV conditions (UV-A + UV-B exclusion, UV-B exclusion or near-ambient UV-A + UV-B exposure) combined with two rainfall regimes (natural or reduced rainfall). Several parameters related to C and N cycles in the soil and in the leaves and litter of two dominant plant species (Arbutus unedo and Phillyrea angustifolia) were measured before and after an experimental fire.


UV-A exposure increased soil moisture throughout the study period, as well as respiration before the fire. The additional presence of UV-B decreased β-glucosidase activity at 5–10 cm depth and soil respiration and pH. UV-B exposure also raised leaf C concentration in P. angustifolia and δ15N values in A. unedo. Reduced rainfall often emphasized the opposite effects of UV-A and UV-B on the studied parameters. After the fire, most of the UV and rainfall effects were lost.


UV-A exposure seems to stimulate soil biological activity and, thus, C and N turn-over, while the effect of UV-B would be the opposite. At least in the short term, the “homogenizing influence” of fire would probably have a stronger effect on the C and N cycles than the expected changes in UV and rainfall levels.


Carbon cycle Drought Fire Mediterranean shrublands Nitrogen cycle UV radiation 



This research was supported by the Spanish Government (CGL2010-22283 and CGL2014-55976-R) and the University of Girona (ASING2011/3 and MPCUdG2016). We are grateful to the Gavarres Consortium for allowing us to perform the experiment in Can Vilallonga. We also thank Jordi Compte, Meritxell Bernal and Miquel Jover for their help with the field experiment, and Dr. Alan Jones for his comments to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11104_2017_3485_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (136 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 135 kb)
11104_2017_3485_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (126 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 125 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of Girona, Campus MontiliviGironaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Chemical Engineering, Agriculture and Food Technology, Polytechnic SchoolUniversity of Girona, Campus MontiliviGironaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of Vic – Central University of CataloniaVicSpain
  4. 4.Department of Physics, Polytechnic SchoolUniversity of Girona, Campus MontiliviGironaSpain
  5. 5.Institute of Ecosystem Studies, CNRPisaItaly

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