DAYCENT Simulations to Test the Influence of Fire Regime and Fire Suppression on Trace Gas Fluxes and Nitrogen Biogeochemistry of Colorado Forests

Publication Type:

Journal Article


FORESTS, MDPI AG, Volume 3, Number 3, POSTFACH, CH-4005 BASEL, SWITZERLAND, p.506-527 (2012)


Colorado Front Range, fire, fire exclusion, fire regime, fire suppression, methane, nitric oxide, nitrification rates, nitrous oxide, ponderosa pine, soil, trace gas


Biological activity and the physical environment regulate greenhouse gas fluxes (CH4, N2O and NO) from upland soils. Wildfires are known to alter these factors such that we collected daily weather records, fire return intervals, or specific fire years, and soil data of four specific sites along the Colorado Front Range. These data were used as primary inputs into DAYCENT. In this paper we test the ability of DAYCENT to simulate four forested sites in this area and to address two objectives: (1) to evaluate the short-term influence of fire on trace gas fluxes from burned landscapes; and (2) to compare trace gas fluxes among locations and between pre-/post-fire suppression. The model simulations indicate that CH4 oxidation is relatively unaffected by wildfire. In contrast, gross nitrification rates were reduced by 13.5-37.1% during the fire suppression period. At two of the sites, we calculated increases in gross nitrification rates (>100%), and N2O and NO fluxes during the year of fire relative to the year before a fire. Simulated fire suppression exhibited decreased gross nitrification rates presumably as nitrogen is immobilized. This finding concurs with other studies that highlight the importance of forest fires to maintain soil nitrogen availability.