Fire and nutrient cycling
Document Type: Book Chapter
Author(s): David A. MacLean; Stephen J. Woodley; Michael G. Weber; Ross W. Wein
Editor(s): Ross W. Wein; David A. MacLean
Publication Year: 1983

Cataloging Information

  • ash
  • biomass
  • biomass consumption
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • convection
  • decomposition
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • leaching
  • light
  • microorganisms
  • N - nitrogen
  • nitrogen loss
  • northern ecosystems
  • nutrient cycling
  • nutrients
  • pH
  • soil chemistry
  • soils
  • volatilization
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 1781
Tall Timbers Record Number: 1901
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: QH 84.1 R64 1983
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Patterns of undisturbed nutrient cycling in northern ecosystems and the impact of fire on nutrient cycling are reviewed and discussed. The various effects of fire on ecosystem nutrient cycling may be broadly subdivided into (1) nutrient redistribution during fire, and (2) changes in post-fire nutrient cycling. Effects during fire include the loss of nutrients (especially nitrogen) from ecosystems through volatilization, loss of particulate matter in smoke, and convection action; the transfer of mineral elements to the ash layer; and heating of biomass (often above lethal levels) and the upper soil layers. Post-fire changes include the 'pulse' addition of nutrients in the ash layer immediately after fire, possible increased leaching into the soil profile, overland flow or erosional transfers of nutrients, increased soil pH, lowered albedo from the fire-darkened surface, increased active layer depth, and warmer soil profiles which affect microorganisms and decomposition processes. The magnitude of these effects is discussed in the light of our present knowledge and needs for future research are proposed.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (1.4 MB; pdf)
MacLean, David A.; Woodley, Stephen J.; Weber, Michael G.; Wein, Ross W. 1983. Fire and nutrient cycling. Pages 111-132 In: Wein, Ross W.; MacLean, David A. (Ed.). The role of fire in northern circumpolar ecosystems. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.