The important properties contributed to forest soils by decayed wood in the Northern Rocky Mountains make it desirable to determine the time required to reconstitute such materials in depleted soils. The ratio of fiber production potential (growth) to total quantity of wood in a steady state ecosystem provides estimates varying from approximately 100 to 300 years, depending on habitat type, for replacement of decayed soil wood. Radiocarbon dating of decayed wood in various stages of incorporation into the soil ranged from 100 to 550 years, depending on site and depth in soil. Species identification of decayed wood indicated that Douglas-fir residue is the most persistent woody material in these Northern Rocky Mountain soils.
Harvey, A. E.; Larsen, M. J.; Jurgensen, M. F. 1981. Rate of woody residue incorporation into Northern Rocky Mountain forest soils. Res. Pap. INT-RP-282. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 5 p.