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    Description

    This study investigates whether different intensities of organic matter removal associated with timber harvest influence decadal-scale storage of soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) in the top 1 m of mineral soil 18 years postharvest in a Pinus taeda L. forest in the Gulf Coastal Plain. We quantified forest harvest-related changes in SOC, TN, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and nitrogen (MBN) pools (0–100 cm) in unharvested control stands and in two organic matter removal treatment stands subjected to either (i) merchantable bole/stem-only harvest or (ii) whole-tree harvest + forest floor removal. In addition, δ13C of SOC and δ15N of TN were measured in mineral soil to provide insights regarding mechanisms that might explain changes in SOC and TN pool sizes. Soils were sampled seasonally for 1 year. Increasing organic matter removal intensity reduced SOC, TN, MBC, and MBN relative to the unharvested control. Furthermore, soils from whole-tree harvest + forest floor removal stands had lower δ13C and higher δ15N values, suggesting that increasing organic matter removal may decrease heterotrophic activity as well as increase rates of N loss. Seasonal variabilities in SOC and TN were correlated to changes in forest biological properties such as root biomass and forest floor mass. These results indicate that more intensive harvest methods may lead to decade-scale decreases in SOC and TN storage in surface and subsurface soils which could influence rates of biogeochemical processes, the availability of soil nutrients, and potential forest productivity.

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    Citation

    Mushinski, Ryan M.; Boutton, Thomas W.; Scott, D. Andrew. 2017. Decadal-scale changes in forest soil carbon and nitrogen storage are influenced by organic matter removal during timber harvest. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 122: 846-862. 17 p. DOI:10.1002/2016JG003738.

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    Keywords

    timber harvest, soil carbon, nitrogen, root biomass, forest floor mass, soil fertility, forest productivity, Gulf Coastal Plain, organic matter

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/54297