Soil microbiological properties and enzymatic activities of long-term post-fire recovery in dry and semiarid Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis M.) forest stands
Abstract. Wildfires affecting forest ecosystems and post-fire silvicultural treatments may cause considerable changes in soil properties. The capacity of different microbial groups to recolonise soil after disturbances is crucial for proper soil functioning. The aim of this work was to investigate some microbial soil properties and enzyme activities in semiarid and dry Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis M.) forest stands. Different plots affected by a wildfire event 17 years ago without or with post-fire silvicultural treatments 5 years after the fire event were selected. A mature Aleppo pine stand, unaffected by wildfire and not thinned was used as a control. Physicochemical soil properties (soil texture, pH, carbonates, organic matter, electrical conductivity, total N and P), soil enzymes (urease, phosphatase, β-glucosidase and dehydrogenase activities), soil respiration and soil microbial biomass carbon were analysed in the selected forests areas and plots. The main finding was that long time after this fire event produces no differences in the microbiological soil properties and enzyme activities of soil after comparing burned and thinned, burned and not thinned, and mature plots. Moreover, significant site variation was generally seen in soil enzyme activities and microbiological parameters. We conclude that total vegetation recovery normalises post-fire soil microbial parameters, and that wildfire and post-fire silvicultural treatments are not significant factors affecting soil properties after 17 years.