Fire Effects on Soil Nutrients and Carbon Sequestration

Prescribed fire at Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Georgia. Photo by Kevin Robertson.

Prescribed fire at Pebble Hill Fire Plots, near Thomasville, Georgia. Photo by Kevin Robertson.

The Fire Ecology Program is using Tall Timbers’ various long-term studies to determine the effects of prescribed fire and fire frequency on soil nutrient and carbon dynamics. Research is aimed at better understanding the role fire plays in natural chemical cycles in southern U.S. pinelands. Preliminary research suggests that frequent (2-3 year interval) burning, which mimics the natural fire frequency of the ecosystem, is beneficial to both soil nutrient availability and carbon storage in old-field (post-agriculture) pine forests. This appears to be because organic matter decomposition rates are lower in frequently burned areas. Work on carbon respiration rates is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Florida to better understand carbon cycles in frequently burned pine communities.


Robertson, K.M. Wildfire, prescribed fire, and climate change. [Presentation to the Florida Governor’s Cabinet, June 2007 – in PDF format]

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