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The Effect of Fire Severity on Soil Microbial Recolonization in a Recently Burned Ponderosa Pine Forest


Soil microbes work in communities in order to preform necessary functions for soil health. Essentially, the microbes in the soil can be killed off by heat of fires and after a fire the structure of the community of microbes changes. For example, certain types of bacteria may return and recolonize the soil faster after fires than others. We want see how the community composition changes over time from immediately after the fire to a year after the fire.

The high temperatures and length of time that the area is burning establishes fire severity classes. Our study looks at sites in both high and low severity as well as a unburned control group for comparison. We are particularly interested in monitoring the bacteria in soils that preform an important role in converting nitrogen to a usable form that plants need to grow.