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Sphagnum mosses limit total carbon consumption during fire in Alaskan black spruce forestsAuthor(s): G. Shetler; .R. Turetsky; E. Kane; E. Kasischke
Source: Canadian Journal of Forestry Research. 38: 2328-2336
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionThe high water retention of hummock-forming Sphagnum species minimizes soil moisture fluctuations and might protect forest floor organic matter from burning during wildfire. We hypothesized that Sphagnum cover reduces overall forest floor organic matter consumption during wildfire compared with other ground-layer vegetation. We characterized variability in soil organic layer depth and organic matter stocks in two pairs of burned and unburned black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) stands in interior Alaska. In the unburned stands, microsites dominated by Sphagnum had more than twice as much soil organic matter/m2 as microsites dominated by feather moss and (or) lichens. Whereas 20 percent of soil organic matter was consumed during fire in microsites dominated by Sphagnum, 45 percent was consumed in microsites dominated by feather moss and (or) lichens.
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CitationShetler, G.; Turetsky, R.; Kane, E.; Kasischke, E. 2008. Sphagnum mosses limit total carbon consumption during fire in Alaskan black spruce forests. Canadian Journal of Forestry Research. 38: 2328-2336.
KeywordsSphagnum, fire, black spruce, carbon
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