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Title: Decomposition of coarse woody debris originating by clearcutting of an old-growth conifer forest

Author: Janisch, Jack E.; Harmon, Mark E.; Chen, Hua; Fasth, Becky; Sexton, Jay;

Date: 2005

Source: Ecoscience. 12(2): 151-160

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Decomposition constants (k) for aboveground logs and stumps and subsurface coarse roots originating from harvested old-growth forest (estimated age 400 to 600 y) were assessed by volume-density change methods along a 70-y chronosequence of clearcuts on the Wind River Ranger District, Washington, USA. Principal species sampled were Tsuga heterophylla and Pseudotsuga menziesii. Wood and bark tissue densities were weighted by sample fraction, adjusted for fragmentation, then regressed to determine k by tissue type for each species. After accounting for stand age, no significant differences were found between log and stump density within species, but P. menziesii decomposed more slowly (k = 0.015·y-1) than T. heterophylla (k = 0.036·y-1), a species pattern repeated both above and below ground. Small-diameter (1 to 3 cm) P. menziesii roots decomposed faster (k = 0.014·y-1) than large-diameter (3 to 8 cm) roots (k = 0.008·y-l), a pattern echoed by T. heterophylla roots (1 to 3 cm, k = 0.023·y-1; 3 to 8 cm, k = 0.017·y-1), suggesting a relationship between diameter and k. Given our mean k and mean mass of coarse woody debris stores in each stand (determined earlier), we estimate decomposing logs, stumps, and snags are releasing back to the atmosphere between 0.3 and 0.9 Mg C·ha-1·y-1 (assuming all coarse woody debris is P. menziesii) or 0.8 to 2.3 Mg C·ha-1·y-1 (assuming all coarse woody debris is T. heterophylla). Including coarse roots increases these loss calculations (averages of all decomposition classes for the study year) to 0.5 to 1.9 Mg C·ha-1·y-1 or 1.0 to 3.5 Mg C·ha-1·y-1, respectively. Our results support substitution of log k in carbon flux models when stump k is unknown. Substitution of log k for coarse root k could, however, substantially overestimate carbon flux back to the atmosphere from these forests.

Keywords: Carbon storage, coarse woody debris, decomposition, logs, roots, stumps

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Janisch, Jack E.; Harmon, Mark E.; Chen, Hua; Fasth, Becky; Sexton, Jay 2005. Decomposition of coarse woody debris originating by clearcntting of an old-growth conifer forest. Ecoscience. 12(2): 151-160


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