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Decrease in Soil Functionalities and Herbs' Diversity, but Not That of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, Linked to Short Fire Interval in Semi-Arid Oak Forest Ecosystem, West Iran.

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Mirzaei, Javad 
Heydari, Mehdi 
Omidipour, Reza 
Jafarian, Nahid 
Carcaillet, Christopher  ORCID logo


The semi-arid forest ecosystems of western Iran dominated by Quercus brantii are often disturbed by wildfires. Here, we assessed the effects of short fire intervals on the soil properties and community diversity of herbaceous plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), as well as the interactions between these ecosystem features. Plots burned once or twice within 10 years were compared to unburned plots over a long time period (control sites). Soil physical properties were not affected by the short fire interval, except bulk density, which increased. Soil geochemical and biological properties were affected by the fires. Soil organic matter and nitrogen concentrations were depleted by two fires. Short intervals impaired microbial respiration, microbial biomass carbon, substrate-induced respiration, and urease enzyme activity. The successive fires affected the AMF's Shannon diversity. The diversity of the herb community increased after one fire and dropped after two, indicating that the whole community structure was altered. Two fires had greater direct than indirect effects on plant and fungal diversity, as well as soil properties. Short-interval fires depleted soil functional properties and reduced herb diversity. With short-interval fires probably fostered by anthropogenic climate change, the functionalities of this semi-arid oak forest could collapse, necessitating fire mitigation.



AMF, biodiversity, disturbance, enzyme activity, forest, functional ecology, soil

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Plants (Basel)

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