Abstract: Forests in the New Jersey pine barrens are frequently prescribed burned to reduce fuel loads and risk of wildfire. To acquire baseline data for effects of prescribed burns on ectomycorrhizal diversity and nutrient uptake, field studies were undertaken in two upland pine-oak forests in the New Jersey pine barrens subjected to different burn regimes. Ectomycorrhizal diversity was assessed by extraction of roots from soil cores and separation according to morphological characters. Nutrient availability to plant roots was measured using root bioassays. Relative to unburned plots, plots exposed to a fire at Greenwood, where burning was more frequent, had decreased total abundance of ectomycorrhizal tips, richness of ectomycorrhizal types, and Simpson's diversity in the L and F horizons, but increased Simpson's diversity in the deeper A horizon. At Lebanon, under a less frequent burn regime, richness was lower in whole cores and in the A horizon of burned versus unburned plots. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium uptake by root bioassays indicated higher field availability of nutrients to roots in burned plots than roots in unburned plots, indicating a fertilization effect of the fire. Prescribed burning primarily impacted ectomycorrhizal community structure in the L and F horizons at these sites. Changes in function of ectomycorrhizae (nutrient uptake) in response to the burns was associated with decreased ectomycorrhizal diversity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change