In the four years after the 2008 eruption and burial of Kasatochi Island volcano, erosion and the return of bird activity have resulted in new and altered land surfaces and initiation of ecosystem recovery. We examined fertility characteristics of the recently deposited pyroclastic surfaces, patches of legacy pre-eruptive surface soil (LS), and a post-eruptive surface with recent bird roosting activity. Pyroclastic materials were found lacking in N, but P, K, and other macronutrients were in sufficient supply for plants. Erosion and leaching are moving mobile P and Fe downslope to deposition fan areas. Legacy soil patches that currently support plants have available-N at levels (10–22 mg N kg-1) similar to those added by birds in a recent bird roosting area. Roosting increased surface available N from <1 mg N kg-1 in the new pyroclastic surfaces to up to 42 mg N kg-1 and increased soil biological respiration of CO2 from essentially zero to a level about 40% that of the LS surface. Laboratory plant growth trials using Lupinus nootkatensis and Leymus mollis indicated that the influence of eroded and redeposited LS in amounts as little as 10% by volume mixed with new pyroclastic materials could aid plant recovery by supplying vital N and soil biota to plants as propagules are introduced to the new surface. Erosion-exposure of fertile pre-eruptive soils and erosion-mixing of pre-eruptive soils with newly erupted materials, along with inputs of nutrients from bird activities, each will exert significant influences on the surface fertility and recovery pattern of the new post-eruptive Kasatochi volcano. For this environment, these influences could help to speed recovery of a more diverse plant community by providing N (LS and bird inputs) as alternatives to relying most heavily on N-fixing plants to build soil fertility.
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