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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS THAT PREVENT WIND EROSION AND ENHANCE THE ENVIRONMENT Title: Field Evidence for Differences in Post-Fire Aeolian Transport Related to Vegetation Type in Semi-Arid Grasslands

Authors
item Ravi, Sujith -
item Baddock, Matthew -
item Zobeck, Teddy
item Hartman, Joe -

Submitted to: Aeolian Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 11, 2011
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Citation: Ravi, S., Baddock, M., Zobeck, T.M., Hartman, J. 2012. Field evidence for differences in post-fire aeolian transport related to vegetation type in semi-arid grasslands. Aeolian Research. 7(1):3-10.

Interpretive Summary: Disturbances to grasslands such as wildfires can temporarily reduce vegetation cover, greatly wind erosion, which often leads to a reduction in soil fertility. Post-fire soil movement represents a significant concern for ecosystem management and risk assessment. In this study, we investigate the changes in wind erosion through time following a wildfire within both a managed grassland and an adjacent shrub encroached grassland at the Cimarron National Grassland, Kansas, USA. Our results indicate that, even though the grassland and shrub encroached grassland sites showed comparable wind erosion soon after the fire, the duration of the post-disturbance period of wind erosion activity (or “window of disturbance”) is shorter in the case of grassland than in the case of shrub encroached grassland. The degree of post-fire wind erosion and its reduction with time is strongly affected by the vegetation type. These findings have implications for management of semi-arid grasslands under both changing vegetation types and disturbance (fire) regimes.

Technical Abstract: Disturbances such as wildfires, which cause a temporary reduction in vegetation cover, can greatly accelerate soil erosion by wind and promote dust emissions. Enhanced erosion leads to a reduction in soil fertility and the post-fire mobilization of soil and associated emissions of dust represent a significant concern for ecosystem management and risk assessment. Here we investigate the temporal change of aeolian activity following a wildfire within both a managed grassland and an adjacent shrub encroached grassland at the Cimarron National Grassland, Kansas, USA. Our results indicate that, even though the grassland and shrub encroached grassland sites exhibit comparable aeolian activity soon after the fire, the duration of the post-disturbance period of aeolian activity (or "window of disturbance") is shorter in the case of grassland than in the case of shrub encroached grassland. The degree of post-fire aeolian transport and its attenuation with time is strongly affected by the antecedent vegetation type. These findings have implications for management of semi-arid grasslands under both changing vegetation types and disturbance (fire) regimes.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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