Skip to Main Content
Sensitivity of carbon stores in boreal forest moss mats - effects of vegetation, topography and climateAuthor(s): Robert J. Smith; Sarah Jovan; Andrew N. Gray; Bruce McCune
Source: Plant and Soil. 421(1-2): 31-42.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
Download Publication (1.0 MB)
DescriptionBackground and aims In northern regions, moss and lichen mats are the major carbon-cycling interface between soils and the atmosphere. We aimed to quantify sensitivity of ground layer nutrient stores to environmental predictors, to better understand interactions with vegetation, topography and climatic conditions.
Methods With non-destructive forest inventory techniques, we estimated distributions of biomass, carbon and nitrogen among moss/lichen ground layers in a 1.1 million-ha watershed within Alaska’s boreal forest region. Using nonparametric multiplicative regression, we fit response surfaces and quantified sensitivity to environmental predictors.
Results Across 96 sites, half the ground layer biomass values were in the range 4750–18,900 kg ha−1 (25th to 75th percentiles). Carbon and nitrogen stores peaked in older stands and those with little forb cover (suggesting low disturbance) and low incident radiation. Among functional groups, the most abundant were nitrogen-fixing feather mosses, which formed extensive carpets. Nutrient stores were most sensitive to local vegetation and topography predictors, but less sensitive to regional climate.
Conclusions Moss and lichen mats in boreal forests are substantial carbon and nitrogen stores, with consequences for carbon sequestration and ecosystem productivity. Their environmental sensitivity suggests that ground layer nutrient stores could decrease if global changes promote vascular vegetation expansions and intensifying wildfire regimes.
In northern regions, moss and lichen mats are the major carbon-cycling interface between soils and the atmosphere. We aimed to quantify sensitivity of ground layer nutrient stores to environmental predictors, to better understand interactions with vegetation, topography and climatic conditions.
- Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
- 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.
CitationSmith, Robert J.; Jovan, Sarah; Gray, Andrew N.; McCune, Bruce. 2017. Sensitivity of carbon stores in boreal forest moss mats - effects of vegetation, topography and climate. Plant and Soil. 421(1-2): 31-42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-017-3411-x.
KeywordsBoreal forests, carbon sequestration, climate change sensitivity, interior Alaska, nitrogen cycling, nonparametric multiplicative regression, soil-atmosphere transition, soil nutrients, wildfire regimes.
- Evaluating carbon stores at the earth-atmosphere interface: moss and lichen mats of subarctic Alaska
- A rapid method for landscape assessment of carbon storage and ecosystem function in moss and lichen ground layers
- Burial of downed deadwood is strongly affected by log attributes, forest ground vegetation, edaphic conditions, and climate zones
XML: View XML