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Impacts of erosion control treatments on native vegetation recovery after severe wildfire in the Eastern Cascades, USA

Dodson, Erich K., Peterson, David W., Harrod, Richy J.
International journal of wildland fire 2010 v.19 no.4 pp. 490-499
invasive species, fertilizer application, afforestation, soil stabilization, botanical composition, erosion control, planting, forest fires, water erosion, vegetation, understory
Slope stabilisation treatments like mulching and seeding are used to increase soil cover and reduce runoff and erosion following severe wildfires, but may also retard native vegetation recovery. We evaluated the effects of seeding and fertilisation on the cover and richness of native and exotic plants and on individual plant species following the 2004 Pot Peak wildfire in Washington State, USA. We applied four seeding and three fertilisation treatments to experimental plots at eight burned sites in spring 2005 and surveyed vegetation during the first two growing seasons after fire. Seeding significantly reduced native non-seeded species richness and cover by the second year. Fertilisation increased native plant cover in both years, but did not affect plant species richness. Seeding and fertilisation significantly increased exotic cover, especially when applied in combination. However, exotic cover and richness were low and treatment effects were greatest in the first year. Seeding suppressed several native plant species, especially disturbance-adapted forbs. Fertilisation, in contrast, favoured several native understorey plant species but reduced tree regeneration. Seeding, even with native species, appears to interfere with the natural recovery of native vegetation whereas fertilisation increases total plant cover, primarily by facilitating native vegetation recovery.