Colorado College Logo

  DigitalCC

Use AND (in capitals) to search multiple keywords.
Example: harmonica AND cobos

Effects of Wildfire on Biogeochemical Cycling in Ponderosa Pine Ecosystems

by Sherman, Ross Burchenal

Abstract

The frequency and severity of wildfires in the western United States is increasing, due primarily to a warming climate and unnaturally dense forests caused by policies of fire suppression. Ponderosa pine ecosystems, which historically have been subjected to mostly low severity ground fires, are now experiencing a drastically different fire regime. Carbon and nitrogen stocks, base cations, and strong acid anions were analyzed in response to wildfire severity in the Hayman and Waldo Canyon burn scars, located northeast of Colorado Springs, CO. Results show signs of persisting ecosystem disturbance twelve years after the Hayman Fire occurred, and two years after the Waldo Canyon Fire. Most notably, we observed depleted stocks of carbon and nitrogen in soil samples, as well as decreasing dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in response to percent of watershed disturbed. Base cations (K+, Na+, Mg2+, Ca2+) and sulfate (SO42-) were generally found to increase in response to percent burned at the less severe burn parameters, while nitrate showed a significant positive response to percent of watershed burned at high severity. These relationships suggest that ponderosa pine ecosystems are regenerating more slowly in response to this more severe fire regime, and questions remain about the forests’ ability to act as a reliable carbon sink.

Note

The author has given permission for this work to be deposited in the Digital Archive of Colorado College.

Colorado College Honor Code upheld.

Includes bibliographical references.

Administrative Notes

The author has given permission for this work to be deposited in the Digital Archive of Colorado College.

Colorado College Honor Code upheld.

Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply.
Publisher
Colorado College
PID
coccc:11152
Digital Origin
born digital
Extent
55 pages : illustrations, map(s)
Thesis
Senior Thesis -- Colorado College
Thesis Advisor
Kummel, Miro Barnes, Becca
Department/Program
Environmental Program
Degree Name
Bachelor of Arts
Degree Type
bachelor
Degree Grantor
Colorado College
Date Issued
2015-05