Mycorrhizal propagule densities and soil properties across varying burn severities, three years post-fire, in warm/dry mixed conifer forest in the 416 Fire, southwest Colorado, USA
Keywords:416 fire, warm/dry mixed conifer, mycorrhizae, forest regeneration, fire ecology
Research was conducted in a warm/dry mixed conifer forest within the burn area of the 416 Fire in the San Juan National Forest near Durango, Colorado. 30 plots were established across differing burn severities: low, moderate, and high. Soil was collected from each plot and tested for various chemical properties. Additionally, bioassays of corn and ponderosa pine were grown and harvested to analyze mycorrhizal root colonization indicating soil fungal communities. No significant difference was found in inoculum potential of endomycorrhizae (AM) or ectomycorrhizae (EM) across burn severities. Soil chemical properties also showed no significant difference among differing severities. Results indicate chemical and fungal soil properties, three years post fire, have returned to unburned conditions which may suggest full soil recovery as seen in other post-fire studies in similar forest types. Further research is needed to fully understand regeneration patterns and ideal conditions for successful forest regeneration in the San Juan National Forest.