Short-Term Vegetation Recovery after a Grassland Fire in Lithuania: The Effects of Fire Severity, Slope Position and Aspect

Paulo Pereira, Artemi Cerdà, Antonio Jordán Lopez, Lorena M. Zavala, Jorge Mataix-Solera, Victoria Arcenegui, Ieva Misiune, Saskia Keesstra, Agata Novara

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36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Lithuania, fire is frequently used by farmers as a tool to remove dry grass, improve soil nutrient status and help soil tilling. However, little is known about the ecological impacts of these fires, including vegetation recovery. The objective of this work is to study the impacts of a spring grassland fire on vegetation recuperation on an east-facing (A) and a west-facing slope (B), considering fire severity and slope position, 10, 17, 31 and 46days after the fire. Because of their effects on fire behaviour, aspect, steepness and heterogeneity of topography favoured higher fire severity on slope B than on slope A. Three different slope positions were identified on slope A - flat top, middle slope and flat bottom - and five on slope B - flat top, middle slope, flat middle slope, slope bottom slope and flat bottom. Fire severity was high in top slope positions. The recovery of vegetation was very fast. By the end of the study, vegetation covered nearly 100% of the study area, although fire severity, aspect and slope characteristics had implications on vegetation recovery. Plant cover recovered quickly on slope A. Ten and 17days after the fire, plant cover was high in the bottom positions, where fire severity was relatively low. The major vegetation recuperation was observed between 17 and 31days after the fire, in response to high rainfall.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLand Degradation and Development
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016

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Keywords

  • Fire severity
  • Slope aspect
  • Slope position
  • Spring fires
  • Vegetation recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Development

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