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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 6, p. 1998-2005
    Received: Jan 22, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): smsmith@sfwmd.gov
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Differential Effects of Surface and Peat Fire on Soil Constituents in a Degraded Wetland of the Northern Florida Everglades

  1. Stephen M. Smith *,
  2. Susan Newman,
  3. Patrick B. Garrett and
  4. Jennifer A. Leeds
  1. Everglades Dep., Watershed Research and Planning Division, South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406


The effects of surface (aboveground) and peat (belowground) fire on a number of soil constituents were examined within a hydrologically altered marsh in the northern Florida Everglades. Peat fire resulted in losses of total carbon (TC), total nitrogen (TN), and organic phosphorus (Po), while inorganic phosphorus (Pi) and total calcium (TCa) concentrations increased. In addition, peat fire led to a more pronounced vertical gradient in constituent concentrations between upper and lower soil layers. Surface fire also affected soil constituents, but impacts were small relative to peat fire. The effects of physical versus chemical processes during burning were assessed using ratios of constituent to TCa concentrations. This measure indicated that increases in the levels of total phosphorus (TP) in peat-burned areas were due primarily to the physical reduction of soil, while decreases in TN and TC were the result of volatilization. Increases in concentrations of Pi fractions arose from both chemically and physically mediated processes. In an ecological context, the observed soil transformations may encourage the growth of invasive plant species, such as southern narrow-leaved cattail (Typha domingensis Pers.), which exhibits high growth rates in response to increased P availability.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:1998–2005.