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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 61 No. 1, p. 287-294
    Received: Oct 23, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): halvorjj@mail.wsu.edu


The Pattern of Soil Variables Related to Artemisia tridentata in a Burned Shrub-Steppe Site

  1. Jonathan J. Halvorson ,
  2. Harvey Bolton, and
  3. Jeffrey L. Smith
  1. Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, WA, 99352
    Land Management and Water Conservation Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Washington State Univ., 99164



Artemisia tridentata Nutt. is a prominent shrub of cool deserts in the USA that influences the patterns of chemistry and microbiological activity in the soil in which it grows. However, little is known about the fate of these patterns following the death or removal of the live A. tridentata plant. We compared abutting burned and unburned sites to see if patterns in soil could be related to locations where shrubs were removed by fire 9 yr earlier. While most soil variables were significantly higher in the unburned site than in the burned site, total organic C and soil pH appear unaffected by the removal of A. tridentata or the fire itself. Differences between unburned and burned sites were greatest near the location of a plant axis. In contrast, burned soil was not distinguishable from unburned soil at distances greater than ≈ 50 cm away from a live A. tridentata axis or a charred stump indicating that soil patterns were most affected by removal of the plant and not by the fire. Nearly a decade after the fire, significant effects of A. tridentata on patterns of some soil variables in the burned site were still detectable. Significantly higher values for total organic C, total N, water soluble C, electrical conductivity, and soil microbial biomass C were observed near the location of charred A. tridentata stumps than at distances further away. These patterns are a significant source of soil variability that may be difficult to account for because they are not related to the obvious location of live plants.

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