Skip to Main Content
Woody debris volume depletion through decay: Implications for biomass and carbon accountingAuthor(s): Shawn Fraver; Amy M. Milo; John B. Bradford; Anthony W. D’Amato; Laura Kenefic; Brian J. Palik; Christopher W. Woodall; John Brissette
Source: Ecosystems. 16: 1262-1272.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (354.83 KB)
DescriptionWoody debris decay rates have recently received much attention because of the need to quantify temporal changes in forest carbon stocks. Published decay rates, available for many species, are commonly used to characterize deadwood biomass and carbon depletion. However, decay rates are often derived from reductions in wood density through time, which when used to model biomass and carbon depletion are known to underestimate rate loss because they fail to account for volume reduction (changes in log shape) as decay progresses. We present a method for estimating changes in log volume through time and illustrate the method using a chronosequence approach. The method is based on the observation, confirmed herein, that decaying logs have a collapse ratio (cross-sectional height/width) that can serve as a surrogate for the volume remaining. Combining the resulting volume loss with concurrent changes in wood density from the same logs then allowed us to quantify biomass and carbon depletion for three study species. Results show that volume, density, and biomass follow distinct depletion curves during decomposition. Volume showed an initial lag period (log dimensions remained unchanged), even while wood density was being reduced. However, once volume depletion began, biomass loss (the product of density and volume depletion) occurred much more rapidly than density alone. At the temporal limit of our data, the proportion of the biomass remaining was roughly half that of the density remaining. Accounting for log volume depletion, as demonstrated in this study, provides a comprehensive characterization of deadwood decomposition, thereby improving biomass-loss and carbon-accounting models.
- 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, email@example.com 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.
CitationFraver, Shawn; Milo, Amy M.; Bradford, John B.; D’Amato, Anthony W.; Kenefic, Laura; Palik, Brian J.; Woodall, Christopher W.; Brissette, John. 2013. Woody debris volume depletion through decay: Implications for biomass and carbon accounting. Ecosystems. 16: 1262-1272.
Keywordscarbon cycle, coarse woody debris, deadwood, decay constant, decay rate, decomposition, forest dynamics, forest biomass, forest fuels, habitat structure
- Lodgepole pine bole wood density 1 and 11 years after felling in central Montana
- Linking climate change and downed woody debris decomposition across forests of the eastern United States
- Residence times and decay rates of downed woody debris biomass/carbon in eastern US forests
XML: View XML