How interactions between wildfire and seasonal soil moisture fluxes drive N cycling in northern Sierra Nevada forests
To examine the short-term effects of wildfire on belowground processes in the northern Sierra Nevada, we collected soil samples along a gradient from unburned to high fire severity over 10 months following a wildfire. This included immediate pre- and post-fire sampling for many variables at most sites. While season and soil moisture did not substantially alter pH, microbial biomass, net N mineralization, and nitrification in unburned locations, they interacted with burn severity in complex ways to constrain N cycling after fire. In areas that burned, pH increased (at least initially) after fire, and there were non-monotonic changes in microbial biomass. Net N mineralization also had variable responses to wetting in burned locations. These changes suggest burn severity and precipitation patterns can interact to alter N cycling rates following fire.