Skip to Main Content
An empirical assessment of forest floor carbon stock components across the United StatesAuthor(s): Christopher W. Woodall; Charles H. Perry; James A. Westfall
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 269: 1-9.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (1.07 MB)
DescriptionDespite its prevalent reporting in regional/national greenhouse gas inventories (NGHGI), forest floor (FF) carbon (C) stocks (including litter, humus, and fine woody debris [FWD]) have not been empirically measured using a consistent approach across forests of the US. The goal of this study was to use the first national field inventory of litter and humic layer depths, along with FWD volumes, to assess their basic attributes (e.g., depths/volumes) and refine NGHGI approaches to FF C stock monitoring. Results suggest that FF C stocks are present in nearly 99% of US forests with a median estimate of 25.6 Mg/ha, albeit with tremendous spatial variation in litter/humic depths and FWD volumes. Relative to aboveground live tree biomass C stocks, which typically range from 20 to 200 Mg/ha, nearly a quarter of US forests have minor FF C stocks (<14 Mg/ha), while approximately 10% of US forests may have substantial FF C stocks (>93 Mg/ha). Conditions conducive to large FF C stocks may be stochastic disturbance events that result in high volumes of FWD and/or climatic/physiographic conditions that slow decomposition (e.g., peatland ecosystems found in northern or coastal forest ecosystems). As soil and dead wood field inventories may only sample litter/humic depths and FWD counts by diameter class, C stock estimation procedures are heavily reliant on estimation constants (e.g., bulk/wood density). It was found that the variability in estimation constants may have a much stronger effect on resulting FF C stock estimates than the field measurements (e.g., litter layer depths) themselves. The monitoring of FF C stocks, along with the maintenance of site productivity and associated ecosystem services, would benefit from refined sample protocols in ecosystems with deep humic layers and coupling field data with lab analysis of bulk/wood density and C content from soil sampling programs.
- 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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- 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.
CitationWoodall, Christopher W.; Perry, Charles H.; Westfall, James A. 2012. An empirical assessment of forest floor carbon stock components across the United States. Forest Ecology and Management. 269: 1-9.
Keywordscarbon, litter, humus, forest floor, greenhouse gas inventory, fine woody debris
- Comparing field- and model-based standing dead tree carbon stock estimates across forests of the US
- Using matrix models to estimate aboveground forest biomass dynamics in the eastern USA through various combinations of LiDAR, Landsat, and forest inventory data
- National inventories of down and dead woody material forest carbon stocks in the United States: Challenges and opportunities
XML: View XML