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Effects of alien plant management, fire and soil chemistry on selected soil microbial populations in the Table Mountain National Park, South Africa

Cilliers, C. D. ; Botha, A. ; Esler, K. J. ; Boucher, C. (2005-06)

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This pilot study examined changes in soil chemistry and microbial population sizes following the extensive wildfires in 2000 on the Cape Peninsula. The effects of standing alien plants and stacks of mechanically-cleared alien plant material on selected post-fire microbial populations and their recovery were investigated. These were compared to burnt fynbos and the burnt cleared areas surrounding wildfire burnt stacks. Microbial population sizes and chemical changes were also monitored in unburnt fynbos and dense unburnt stands of invasive alien plants. Differences in soil chemistry and microbial population sizes occurred in the samples taken from the various post-fire environments while marked seasonal changes were also apparent. Microbial population sizes were linked to pre-fire vegetation characteristics, fire intensity, the management of alien plants, soil chemical changes and seasonal influences. High volumes of woody alien plant biomass impacted on post wildfire microbial population sizes during summer. During winter, however, microbial population sizes were primarily influenced by soil texture and nutrient composition. Copyright © NISC Pty Ltd.

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