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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 215418, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/215418
Research Article

Prescribed Burning and Clear-Cutting Effects on Understory Vegetation in a Pinus canariensis Stand (Gran Canaria)

1Invasive Species: Interisland Research Group (EIGI), Instituto Universitario de Enfermedades Tropicales y Salud Pública de Canarias (IUETSPC), Universidad de La Laguna (ULL), Avenida Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez s/n, La Laguna 38206, Spain
2Departamento de Geografía, Facultad de Geografía e Historia, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 35003, Spain
3Seguridad y Control de Riesgos, Estructura de Teleformación, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 35003, Spain
4Área de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales, Universidad de León, León 24071, Spain

Received 13 February 2014; Revised 23 June 2014; Accepted 7 July 2014; Published 24 July 2014

Academic Editor: Regis Cereghino

Copyright © 2014 José Ramón Arévalo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Prescribed fires are a powerful tool for reducing fire hazards by decreasing amounts of fuel. The main objective is to analyze the effects of prescribed burning on the understory vegetation composition as well as on the soil characteristics of a reforested stand of Pinus canariensis. The study attempts to identify the effects of the preburning treatment of cutting understory vegetation on the floristic parameters of the vegetation community. This study was carried out for two years following a prescribed fire in a Canarian pine stand. Cutting and burning treatment affected species composition and increased diversity. Burnt and cut plots were characterized by a diverse array of herbaceous species and by a lower abundance of Teline microphylla (endemic legume), although burning apparently induced its germination. Cut treatment was more consistently differentiated from the control plots than burnt treatment. Soil K decreased after both treatments, pH slightly decreased after cutting, while P and Ca increased after fire. From an ecological point of view, prescribed burning is a better management practice than cutting the woody species of the understory. However, long-term studies would be necessary to evaluate the effects of fire intensity, season and frequency in which the prescribed burning is applied.