Submitted to: Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/28/2006
Publication Date: 1/22/2007
Citation: Kumar, K.S., Sajwan, K.S., Alva, A.K., Manian, S. 2007. Effects of Surface Fire on Litter Decomposition and occurance of microfungi in a Cymbopogon polyneuros Dominated Grassland. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science. 53: 205-219, 2007. Interpretive Summary: A grassland ecosystem is influenced by various factors, including climate, soil properties, nutrient status, etc. Fire also plays a major role in the development, maintenance and management practices of grasslands. In this study, the effects of natural fire on association of fungal flora in a Cymbopogon polyneuros dominated grassland was investigated in a humid tropical climate region in India. The burned and unburned sites were monitored for rate of litter decomposition and association of fungal flora. The rate of litter decomposition was greater in the burned site as compared to that in the unburned site. Buried litter samples favored greater rate of litter decomposition as compared to that placed on the soil surface. The concentrations of nutrients in the litter decreased as the decomposition progressed, thus, indicating release of nutrients with decomposition. The decomposing litter from the burned site contained greater microfungi association as compared to that from the unburned site. Thus, in summary, burning native grassland contributed to an increased rate of litter decomposition, increased release of plant available nutrients and greater colonization by the microfungi as compared to those in the unburned site.
Technical Abstract: Rate of litter decomposition, changes in macro nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in soil and decomposing litter and major fungal flora were investigated in Cymbopogon polyneuros (CP) dominated tall grass ecosystem in burned and unburned sites in south India. The litter decomposition rate was greater in the burned site as compared to that in the unburned site. The litter decomposition rate was greater when the litter was buried as compared to that when placed on the soil surface. The concentrations of N, P, and K in the litter decreased as the litter decomposition progressed. Total species of microfungi identified from the different grades of decomposing CP litter was greater in burned site (n=101) as compared to that in an unburned site (n=63). Microfungi species present both in unburned and burned sites were similar except for minor differences.