Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forest fires help power the nitrogen cycle

Date:
August 9, 2010
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Years after a forest fire, soil bacteria communities have changed and convert more ammonia to nitrates, increasing soil fertility.

When fire burns down a forest, nitrate levels go up, and the effects are persistent, according to recent research from University of Montana scientists. They found that charcoal deposited during fire events has the potential to stimulate the conversion of ammonia to nitrates, an important step in the nitrogen cycle.

Led by Patrick Ball, the research team found that a type of bacteria that transforms ammonia into nitrates was found in greater abundance in recently burned sites, despite the fact that the "recent" fire was twelve years prior to the sampling period. In addition to the bacteria, the burned sites had greater rates of nitrification, meaning that nitrogen was being processed more quickly through the ecosystem than without a fire.

The study was reported in the July/August 2010 Journal of Environmental Quality, published by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.

Nitrogen is often a limiting nutrient in coniferous forests soils of the western United States, where this study was conducted. The research results reveal a link between fire, charcoal deposition, nitrification, and abundance of nitrifying organisms in coniferous forests of the inland Northwestern US.

Conducted on soils from sites that had been exposed twice or three times to fires in the last 94 years, the research team was able to demonstrate that charcoal can stimulate nitrate production well after the heat pulse and substrate pulse (and increased ammonium) has abated.

Additionally, an analysis of the bacterial community, though gene sequencing, revealed shifts in community structure based both on fire history and soil type. This suggests that these soils are possibly shifting toward supporting microbial groups typically found in more productive soils such as those in adjacent open mountain meadows.

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ball et al. Wildfire and Charcoal Enhance Nitrification and Ammonium-Oxidizing Bacterial Abundance in Dry Montane Forest Soils. Journal of Environmental Quality, 2010; 39 (4): 1243 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2009.0082

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Forest fires help power the nitrogen cycle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809093645.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2010, August 9). Forest fires help power the nitrogen cycle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809093645.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Forest fires help power the nitrogen cycle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809093645.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) We all know that it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables but do you know which ones are the best for you? Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment

Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) A panda in China showed pregnancy symptoms that disappeared after two months of observation. One theory: Her pseudopregnancy was a ploy for perks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins