Wildfire has historically been a major disturbance in Mediterranean European ecosystems and prescribed burning is increasingly used here to mitigate possible damage and reduce hazard. This raises the issue of a possible negative impact on soil from repeated burning treatments. We investigated the effects of a single and repeated prescribed burning on total and extractable organic C, microbial biomass C, fungal mycelium, microbial activity, metabolic quotient and C mineralization rate in the fermentation layer (F-layer) and the 5-cm soil underneath of a Pinus halepensis Mill. plantation in the Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni National Park, Southern Italy. Prescribed burning was sequentially applied in 2009 and 2014 and the measurements were performed during the first year following each burning treatment. The first treatment produced short-term effects on the microbial biomass and activity of the F-layer, whereas the soil layer underneath was virtually unaffected. Surprisingly, the second treatment had negligible effects on either layer, probably because of a reduction of the understory fuel load and changes in the stand structure after the first burning. Most remarkably, fire-induced changes in the soil parameters considered were generally smaller than over-time fluctuations.
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