Soil chemistry and nutrient regimes following 17-21 years of shortleaf pine-bluesteam restoration in Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas
Harvesting and repeated burning are frequently used to restore shortleaf pine-bluestem ecosystems within the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas, USA. These practices have been shown to adequately restore much of the habitat for bird and mammal species that utilize this ecosystem. However, there have been only limited studies to quantify the impact of restoration activities on soil chemistry and nutrient availability in this region. We compared soil chemistry and foliar nutrient concentrations for a 3-year period in three shortleaf pine-hardwood stands that had restoration activities for at least 17 years with soil chemistry and foliar nutrient concentrations in three stands that have had no restoration activities. Mineralizable N, total N, C, Ca, and pH of the surface soil were higher in the restored stands than in the stands without restoration activities. The magnitude of the increases in nutrient concentrations and pH appeared to reflect the combined impacts of harvesting and prescribed burning in the restored stands. Foliar concentrations of N, P, K, and Ca were significantly higher in the restored stands for at least 1 year following the most recent prescribed fire. However, only K concentrations were greater in the restored stands during the entire 3 year study. An increase in nutrient availability within the restored stands suggests that surface soil fertility and productivity may have increased with shortleaf pine-bluestem restoration activities.