Slash and burn impacts on a Costa Rican wet forest site
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): John J. Ewel; Cory Berish; Becky Brown; N. Price; James Raich
Publication Year: 1981

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • ash
  • biomass
  • calcium
  • carbon dioxide
  • Central America
  • chemistry
  • conservation
  • Costa Rica
  • decay
  • deforestation
  • distribution
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • erosion
  • evergreens
  • evolution
  • fire injuries (plants)
  • fire intensity
  • forest management
  • fungi
  • K - potassium
  • land management
  • leaching
  • leaves
  • litter
  • logging
  • magnesium
  • moisture
  • mortality
  • mosaic
  • nitrogen
  • nutrient cycling
  • nutrients
  • old growth forests
  • pH
  • phosphorus
  • plant growth
  • precipitation
  • regeneration
  • S - sulfur
  • sampling
  • second growth forests
  • seed dormancy
  • seeds
  • site treatments
  • slash
  • slash and burn
  • soil leaching
  • soil moisture
  • soil organic matter
  • soil temperature
  • soils
  • species diversity (plants)
  • surface fuels
  • temperature
  • transpiration
  • trees
  • tropical forests
  • volatilization
  • water
  • wind
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: December 3, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 33449
Tall Timbers Record Number: 7602
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-E
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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.


Impacts of felling, mulching, and burning on budgets of C, N, S, P, K, Ca, and Mg; rates of CO2 evolution from the soil; soil seed storage; and plant growth were evaluated. The felled tropical evergreen forest was 8-9 yr old, interspersed with patches of 70 yr old forest and had a leaf area index of 6 and aboveground biomass of 5.2 kg/m2. Harvest of the largest trees removed 18% of the S, dn > 10% of all other elements except N. During the 11-wk mulching and drying period, 33% of the K and 13% of the P disappeared, but losses of other elements wee < 6%. Burn temperatures were > 620 C in surface fuels, but soil temperatures were seldom > 100 C at 1 cm or > 50 C at 2 cm. The burn volatilized 1600 g/m2 C, 49 g/m2 N, and 13 g/m2 S. Postburn wind and water erosion of ash, plus leaching, removed 34 g/m2 N, 20 g/m2 K, 1 g/m2 P, 39 g/m2 Ca, and 7 g/m2 Mg, but insignificant amounts of C and S. After the burn and onset of the rains, 57% of the initial amount of N and 39% of the initial C still remained because of conservation of the organic-rich upper 3 cm of soil. Soil CO2 evolution was greater from beneath the 11 wk old slash (3.6 gC m-2 d-1) than from beneath the forest (2.5 gC m-2 d-1), probably because the slash conserved soil moisture better than the actively transpiring forest. After the burn both the burned field and forest soil evolved CO2 at approx. 4.5 gC m-2 d-1. At this rate, 154 d of decompositon and respiration would release as much C inoto the atmosphere as did the burn. Soil seed storage dropped from approx. 8000 seeds/m2 (67 species) in the forest, to 6000 seeds/m2 (51 species) after 11 wk of mulching, to 3000 seeds/m2 (37 species) after the burn. The seeds not killed by the burn, the survival of mycorrhizal fungi, and the release of nutrients resulted in vigorous and diverse postburn regrowth.© by the Ecological Society of America. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Online Link(s):
Ewel, J. J., C. Berish, B. Brown, N. Price, and J. Raich. 1981. Slash and burn impacts on a Costa Rican wet forest site. Ecology, v. 62, no. 3, p. 816-829.