Title

Effects of Prescribed Fire on Soil Respiration in a Longleaf Pine Forest.

Date of Award

5-2021

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Biological Sciences BS

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Micheal Davis, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Prescribed fire is a common tool used to increase the herbaceous diversity in longleaf pine forest understories and to eliminate competition from undesirable mid-canopy species. Little is known about the effects of these fires on the soil respiration rates within these forests. A study of the effects of prescribed fire on soil respiration was conducted within a longleaf pine stand at the Lake Thoreau Environmental Center to examine soil respiration across seasons and before and after a prescribed fire. Soil CO2 efflux rates were measured using a LICOR LI-8100A gas flux system with long-term chambers from October 2020 to March 2021. Initial analyses showed a sharp decrease in soil respiration after the prescribed fire. However, closer examination of the data revealed distinctive seasonal temperature variations. Subsequent analyses using daily high temperature as a covariate and eliminating the warmer months of October and November showed that there was no significant effect of prescribed fire on soil respiration. This study highlights both the value of long-term data collection for examining soil respiration and the danger of not considering other environmental parameters when analyzing soil respiration data.

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