Alterations following a fire in a forest community of Alto Rio Xingu
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This study records the consequences of fire upon the soil and structure of the Amazonian Forest of Gaucha do Norte, Mato Grosso state, Brazil (13degrees12'S and 53degrees20'W). For this, the number of individuals sampled in 1 ha of the forest, during a phytosociological survey completed 2 days before the accidental fire, was compared with the survivors recorded afterwards in the reinventory of the area taken 2 days and 10 months after the fire. For the surveys, the area of 1 ha was subdivided into 50 plots of 10 m x 20 m, and all the individuals with circumference at breast height (CBH) greater than or equal to 15 cm were sampled. Chemical analysis of the 30 soil samples collected 2 days before the fire were compared with those obtained 15 days and 1 year after the fire. It was seen that, soon after the fire, there was a significant increase in the nutrient levels in the soil, an increase in the pH and a decrease in the aluminum toxicity. However, after 1 year, losses by lixiviation resulted in a nutrient reserve in the soil of less than that before the fire. The tree mortality was extremely high (23.98%), particularly amongst the younger individuals of the population (93.68% of the total of deaths in the period). There was no significant reduction in the forest richness analyzed: 60% of the species had reduced populations after the fire, but just four species were locally extinct. Results, however, demonstrated a role for fire in the selection of resistant species or those adapted to fires, since some species demonstrated a greater tolerance to the fire than others. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. B.V. All rights reserved.