Fire in wetlands is poorly understood, yet hazard reduction burns are a common management practice and bushfires are becoming increasingly prevalent because of climate change. Fire may have long-lasting implications for the microbial component of these wetland ecosystems that regulate carbon and nutrient cycling. The extremely fire-prone Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in south-eastern Australia contains hundreds of endangered peat-forming upland swamps that regularly experience both bushfires and hazard reduction burns. In a before–after control–impact study, we surveyed the sediment microbial community of these swamps to test the impact of a low-intensity hazard reduction burn. Along with sediment pH, moisture and organic content, we measured gene abundances including those relating to carbon cycling (quantitative PCR (qPCR) of pmoA, mcrA, bacterial 16S rRNA and archaeal 16S rRNA), and bacteria community fingerprint (terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP)). One year after the hazard reduction burn, there were no significant differences in the gene abundances or microbial community fingerprint that could be attributed to the fire, suggesting that the hazard reduction burn did not have a long-term impact on these microbial communities.
- Blue Mountains
- Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone
- prescribed fire
- sediment microbe community