Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
Original research article
19 May 2016
Original research article |  | 19 May 2016

Fire affects root decomposition, soil food web structure, and carbon flow in tallgrass prairie

E. Ashley Shaw, Karolien Denef, Cecilia Milano de Tomasel, M. Francesca Cotrufo, and Diana H. Wall

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Cited articles

Ajwa, H., Dell, C., and Rice, C.: Changes in enzyme activities and microbial biomass of tallgrass prairie soil as related to burning and nitrogen fertilization, Soil Biol. Biochem., 31, 769–777, 1999.
Albers, D., Schaefer, M., and Scheu, S.: Incorporation of plant carbon into the soil animal food web of an arable system, Ecology, 87, 235–245, 2006.
Bardgett, R. D.: The Biology of Soil: A Community and Ecosystem Approach, Oxford University Press, New York, 25–85, 2005.
Bardgett, R. D. and Cook, R.: Functional aspects of soil animal diversity in agricultural grasslands, Appl. Soil Ecol., 10, 263–276, 1998.
Bardgett, R. D., Leemans, D. K., Cook, R., and Hobbs, P. J.: Seasonality of soil biota of grazed and ungrazed hill grasslands, Soil Biol. Biochem., 29, 1285–1294, 1997.
Short summary
We investigated fire's effects on root decomposition and carbon (C) flow to the soil food web. We used 13C-labeled dead roots buried in microcosms constructed from two burn treatment soils (annual and infrequent burn). Our results showed greater root decomposition and C flow to the soil food web for the annual burn compared to infrequent burn treatment. Thus, roots are a more important C source for decomposers in annually burned areas where surface plant litter is frequently removed by fire.