Straw and wood chips have been widely used as mulch materials to control post-fire erosion in burned forests. However, their effects on ecosystem multifunctionality (EMF) have been little explored. This information is essential to give forest managers insight about the effectiveness of these strategies for restoration of severely-burned forests. To fill this gap, this study has evaluated the short-term (one year after wildfire) changes in ecosystem properties (associated to soil characteristics), structure (linked to plant diversity), individual ecosystem functions, and EMF in a Mediterranean forest. This delicate ecosystem was burned by a wildfire and then mulched with straw or wood chips, and EMF in these conditions was compared to burned and untreated, and unburned sites. The results have shown that: (i) neither wildfire nor mulching significantly changed soil properties with the exception of pH; (ii) in contrast, ecosystem structure significantly declined in mulched plots due to wildfire, and mulching did not limit the alteration in species richness; (iii) among the analysed ecosystem functions, waste decomposition and nutrient cycling, which were significantly higher in unburned soils compared to burned sites, showed intermediate and similar values in mulched plots, while water cycle and wood production (the latter with the exception of unburned plots) were similar among all soil conditions, and climate regulation was significantly higher only in soils mulched with wood chips compared to burned sites; (iv) EMF increased from burned and untreated soils to unburned sites; (v) mulching was effective at limiting the reduction in EMF due to wildfire, but only partially dampened the impact of the fire. Moreover, the combined analysis of ecosystem properties, structure and functions, and EMF revealed that: (i) all functions, except water cycle, were associated to one or more soil or vegetation parameters; (ii) species community composition noticeably influ-enced several ecosystem functions, and, therefore, EMF; (iii) species richness is a key driver of wood production; (iv) pH, which was found as the most influential soil property on ecosystem functions and EMF, may be considered as an important ecological predictor of forest functions in basic soils of Mediterranean forests. This study may be of practical importance for policymakers and land managers about the most effective actions to preserve the ecosystem EMF in fragile ecosystems, such as the Mediterranean wildfire-affected forest.

Short-term impacts of wildfire and post-fire mulching on ecosystem multifunctionality in a semi-arid pine forest

Zema, DA
;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Straw and wood chips have been widely used as mulch materials to control post-fire erosion in burned forests. However, their effects on ecosystem multifunctionality (EMF) have been little explored. This information is essential to give forest managers insight about the effectiveness of these strategies for restoration of severely-burned forests. To fill this gap, this study has evaluated the short-term (one year after wildfire) changes in ecosystem properties (associated to soil characteristics), structure (linked to plant diversity), individual ecosystem functions, and EMF in a Mediterranean forest. This delicate ecosystem was burned by a wildfire and then mulched with straw or wood chips, and EMF in these conditions was compared to burned and untreated, and unburned sites. The results have shown that: (i) neither wildfire nor mulching significantly changed soil properties with the exception of pH; (ii) in contrast, ecosystem structure significantly declined in mulched plots due to wildfire, and mulching did not limit the alteration in species richness; (iii) among the analysed ecosystem functions, waste decomposition and nutrient cycling, which were significantly higher in unburned soils compared to burned sites, showed intermediate and similar values in mulched plots, while water cycle and wood production (the latter with the exception of unburned plots) were similar among all soil conditions, and climate regulation was significantly higher only in soils mulched with wood chips compared to burned sites; (iv) EMF increased from burned and untreated soils to unburned sites; (v) mulching was effective at limiting the reduction in EMF due to wildfire, but only partially dampened the impact of the fire. Moreover, the combined analysis of ecosystem properties, structure and functions, and EMF revealed that: (i) all functions, except water cycle, were associated to one or more soil or vegetation parameters; (ii) species community composition noticeably influ-enced several ecosystem functions, and, therefore, EMF; (iii) species richness is a key driver of wood production; (iv) pH, which was found as the most influential soil property on ecosystem functions and EMF, may be considered as an important ecological predictor of forest functions in basic soils of Mediterranean forests. This study may be of practical importance for policymakers and land managers about the most effective actions to preserve the ecosystem EMF in fragile ecosystems, such as the Mediterranean wildfire-affected forest.
2023
Ecosystem properties
Ecosystem structure
Ecosystem functions
Soil characteristics
Plant diversity
Post-fire management
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12318/141554
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 4
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 3
social impact