5(2)7

The effect of long-term fire treatments on unsaturated hydraulic conductivities and soil compaction in semi-arid savannas in Kruger National Park, South Africa

T. Strydom (1, 2), E. Riddell (1), N. Govender (2), S. Lorentz (1)

    1. Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
    2. South African National Parks, Scientific Services, Skukuza, South Africa

    Flamma 5(2), 2014, pages 89-91

    Received: 1 June 2012 | Accepted: 29 May 2013

    Abstract

    African savannas are complex and dynamic systems where fire is considered one of the key agents driving these heterogeneous systems. Kruger National Park has a long-term fire experiment, in operation since the early 1950s, which aims to assess the influence of fire on ecosystem dynamics. Research into the impacts of long-term fire management on soil hydrology in semi-arid savannas is still a gap in current knowledge. This study was conducted on the Annual and No Burn plot at the Numbi experimental burn plots in Kruger National Park, South Africa. A tension disc infiltrometer was used to determine unsaturated hydraulic conductivities at 20 random points and a penetrometer was used to characterize soil compaction and crusting within a 3m radius around each point. The penetrometer data revealed a significant difference between soil strength properties across the annual and no burn treatments (p=0.004). However, data collected suggested that there was no significant difference (p>0.05) in unsaturated hydraulic conductivities between the annual and no burn treatments. This study forms part of on-going research and will ultimately provide valuable insight into how fire, soil hydrological properties, vegetation and wildlife interact at a larger scale in a semi-arid landscape.

    Keywords

    Experimental burn plots; Hydraulic conductivity; Infiltration rates; Savannas; Soil crusting

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