Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (588 KB)

Title: Linking climate change and downed woody debris decomposition across forests of the eastern United States

Author: Russell, M.B.; Woodall, C.W.; D'Amato, A.W.; Fraver, S.; Bradford, J.B.;

Date: 2014

Source: Biogeosciences. 1: 6417-6425.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Forest ecosystems play a critical role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Forest carbon (C) is stored through photosynthesis and released via decomposition and combustion. Relative to C fixation in biomass, much less is known about C depletion through decomposition of woody debris, particularly under a changing climate. It is assumed that the increased temperatures and longer growing seasons associated with projected climate change will increase the decomposition rates (i.e., more rapid C cycling) of downed woody debris (DWD); however, the magnitude of this increase has not been previously addressed. Using DWD measurements collected from a national forest inventory of the eastern United States, we show that the residence time of DWD may decrease (i.e., more rapid decomposition) by as much as 13% over the next 200 years, depending on various future climate change scenarios and forest types. Although existing dynamic global vegetation models account for the decomposition process, they typically do not include the effect of a changing climate on DWD decomposition rates. We expect that an increased understanding of decomposition rates, as presented in this current work, will be needed to adequately quantify the fate of woody detritus in future forests. Furthermore, we hope these results will lead to improved models that incorporate climate change scenarios for depicting future dead wood dynamics in addition to a traditional emphasis on live-tree demographics.

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • This publication may be available in hard copy. Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
  • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.



Russell, M.B.; Woodall, C.W.; D'Amato, A.W.; Fraver, S.; Bradford, J.B. 2014. Linking climate change and downed woody debris decomposition across forests of the eastern United States. Biogeosciences. 1: 6417-6425.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.