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Title: Impacts of natural disturbance on soil carbon dynamics in forest ecosystems

Author: Overby, Steven T.; Hart, Stephen C.; Neary, Daniel G.

Date: 2002

Source: In: Kimble, J.M.; Heath, Linda S.; Birdsey, Richard A.; Lal, R., eds. The potential of U.S. forest soils to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press: 159-172.

Publication Series: Book Chapter

Description: Forest soils are entities within themselves, self-organized and highly resilient over time. The transfer of energy bound in carbon (C) molecules drives the organization and functions of this biological system (Fisher and Binkley, 2000; Paul and Clark, 1996). Photosynthetic organisms reduce atmospheric C and store energy from solar radiation in the formation of complex C molecules. This bound energy is transferred to mineral soil in the form of litterfall, root turnover, and root exudates supporting an intricate detrital trophic structure (Fisher, 1995). Much of the C moving through this detrital food web is released annually back to the atmosphere as CO2 from respiration (see Chapter 7), but resident in the mineral soil is a large pool of C that is recalcitrant to decomposition.

Interest in the ability of forest soils to store atmospheric C derived from anthropogenic sources has grown in recent years (Johnson, 1992; Heath and Smith, 2000; Cardon et al., 2001; Johnson and Curtis, 2001). Prior to the 1920s, deforestation was the primary source of increasing atmospheric C, but has since been surpassed by fossil fuel combustion (Vitousek, 1991). Reduced harvests on National Forest lands and reforestation on abandoned agricultural lands since the 1950s have increased some terrestrial C pools in the United States (Houghton et. al. 1999), yet this increase may be at risk due to altered temporal and spatial scales of disturbances (Murray et al., 2000). The extent to which these altered disturbance events have already affected many of the forests within the United States is considerable (see Chapter 2). This paper examines the importance of natural disturbance in shaping forest landscapes and the relationship between aboveground impacts and mineral soil carbon dynamics.

Keywords: carbon, carbon pools, forest cosystems, forest soils, natural disturbance, soil, soil properties

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Citation:


Overby, Steven T.; Hart, Stephen C.; Neary, Daniel G. 2002. Impacts of natural disturbance on soil carbon dynamics in forest ecosystems. In: Kimble, J.M.; Heath, Linda S.; Birdsey, Richard A.; Lal, R., eds. The potential of U.S. forest soils to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press: 159-172.

 


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