Fire is a critical ecosystem process in many landscapes and is particularly dominant in the chaparral shrublands of southern California which are also exposed to high levels of atmospheric N deposition. Few studies have addressed the combined effects of these two disturbance factors. In this study we evaluate the hydrologie and biogeochemical response of a control and a prescribed burn catchment over a 15-year period. Streamwater nitrate concentrations and export in the burned catchment were higher than those in the unburned catchment for 7-10 years after the burn and concentrations remained high in both catchments during the entire study. Therefore, fire is not an effective mitigation tool for N deposition in these semi-arid systems. Additionally, the extended N export in this system indicates that chaparral ecosystems do not recover their N retention capabilities as rapidly as humid systems do when subjected to disturbance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry