Environmental Management Centre Research Group


Paulo Pereira
pereiraub@gmail.com
Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

The Environmental Management Centre

The Environmental Management Centre (EMC) was founded in 2013 at Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania. The group is composed by young and proactive researchers from the entire world. The centre has an interdisplinary vision of science and aims to connect environmental, sociological and economical questions, in order to understand environmental questions from a wide perspective. The areas of research of the centre are, land use management and territorial planning, environmental economics, sustainable development, climate change and urban environment. The EMC members have experienced in the organization of international events as the 4th International Meeting of Fire Effects on Soil Properties (FESP4) and in European Geoscience Union Assembly and work with other scientific groups.

Research

In the previous years, the members of the EMC studied the effects of grassland fires on ash thickness, soil properties and vegetation recuperation. From this work, some papers have been published in international conferences and journals. The most important results were that ash thickness decreases rapidly in the first weeks after the fire. The ash produced at high severity (white and light grey) is easily transported by the wind and it is (re)distributed faster than the ash produced at medium (dark grey black) temperatures. The effects of fire on grassland soils are short termed, due the low severity (Pereira et al. 2013a; Pereira et al., 2014a). Grassland vegetation recovers very fast after the fire and it is very adapted to this disturbance (Pereira et al., 2013b; Pereira et al., 2013c). Research was also carried out about prescribed fire effects in a heathland (see the figure below).

Figure_2
Cormorant colony in Curonian Spit (Lithuania).

The results showed that immediately after the fire no significant differences were observed between the burned and the unburned plot (Pereira et al., 2015a; Pereira et al., 2015b). This research was carried out under the project LitFire. Fire effects on Lithuanian soils and ecosystems. 2011-2012. Contract: No. MIP-11387. Currently, we are continuing this research together with Spanish Universities under the project Soil quality, erosion control and plant cover recovery under different post-fire management scenarios (POSTFIRE), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CGL2013-47862-C2-1-R). We started to study the public perception about fire impacts in the ecosystems. The first results showed that the vision about the fire depends of the age, but especially of the professional occupation (Mierauskas and Pereira, 2013;  Pereira et al., 2014b).

Figure_1
Prescribed fire applied in Dzukija National Park (Lithuania)

Recently we started cooperation with the Research Group on Antarctic Environments and Climate Change from University of Lisbon (Portugal) in the study of soil temperatures in Iberian mountains (Oliva et al., 2014a) and physical and chemical properties of soils from the Arctic (Oliva et al., 2014b). At the moment we have also started working with soils from Antarctica. Other line of research that we are developing recently is the study of the impacts of land use is soil hydrophobicity, soil erosion in urban environments and impact of a Cormorant colony (Curonian Spit, Lithuania) in soil physical and chemical properties.

More information on the website of EMC.

References

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Monday paper: Grassland fire effect on soil organic carbon reservoirs in a semiarid environment


Novara, A., Gristina, L., Rühl, J., Pasta, S., D’Angelo, G., La Mantia, T., Pereira, P. 2013. Grassland fire effect on soil organic carbon reservoirs in a semiarid environment. Solid Earth 4, 381-385. DOI: 10.5194/se-4-381-2013

Abstract

The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of an experimental fire used for grassland management on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. The study was carried out on Hyparrhenia hirta (L.) Stapf (Hh) grassland and Ampelodesmos mauritanicus (Desf.) T. Durand & Schinz (Am) grasslands located in the north of Sicily. Soil samples were collected at 0–5 cm before and after the experimental fire, and SOC was measured. During the grassland fire, soil surface temperature was monitored. Biomass of both grasses was analysed in order to determine dry weight and its chemical composition. The results showed that SOC varied significantly with vegetation type, while it is not affected in the short term by grassland fire. Am grassland stored more SOC compared with Hhgrassland thanks to lower content in the biomass of the labile carbon pool. No significant difference was observed in SOC before and after fire, which could be caused by several factors: first, in both grassland types the measured soil temperature during fire was low due to thin litter layers; second, in a semiarid environment, a higher mineralization rate results in a lower soil carbon labile pool; and third, the SOC stored in the finest soil fractions, physically protected, is not affected by fire.

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Solid Earth (SE) is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of multidisciplinary research on the composition, structure and dynamics of the Earth from the surface to the deep interior at all spatial and temporal scales. More at Solid Earth hompage.

Vegetation ash and soil, resume, challenges and perspectives


Paulo Pereira
pereiraub@gmail.com
Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania

After the fire the ash distributed on soil surface have a great influence on soil protection and it is an important source of nutrients for plant recuperation (Cerdà and Doerr, 2008; Pereira et al., 2010). In the study of fire effects on soil, normally, the role of ash has been neglected, because it is removed or because studies are carried out weeks after the fire, when ash was already removed by wind, water or mixed with soil. In burned areas, when the studies are carried out some weeks after the fire, there is a great probability that the fire impacts in soil are not only due temperatures, but also due the incorporation of ash into the soil profile. Thus methodologies that consider the study of fire impacts on soil several weeks after the fire should consider the ash impact (Pereira et al., 2010).

Figure 1. Wet ash covering soil surface.
Figure 1. Wet ash covering soil surface.

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Ash and soil water repellency effects on soil hydrology in fire-affected Mediterranean ecosystems


Merche B. Bodí
merche.bodi@uv.es
SEDER-Soil Erosion and Degradation Research Group, Departament de Geografia. Universitat de València. Valencia, Spain
GEA-Grupo de Edafología Ambiental, Departamento de Agroquímica y Medio Ambiente, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche, Spain

Cover.
Cover. Click to enlarge.

After a wildfire, changes in the vegetation, micro and macro fauna, biochemical cycles, soil properties, and hydrological and geomorphological processes may occur. The most studied cause of these changes is the heat input, but the environmental conditions after the fire and the new ash cover also play an important role. Continue reading