N saturation symptoms in chaparral catchments are not reversed by prescribed fire

T. Meixner, M. E. Fenn, P. Wohlgemuth, M. Oxford, P. Riggan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2887-2894
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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