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Soil C storage following salvage logging and residue management in bark beetle-infested lodgepole pine forestsAuthor(s): Bethany N. Avera; Charles C. Rhoades; Francisco Calderon; M. Francesca Cotrufo
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 472: 118251.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionBark beetle outbreaks have altered carbon (C) dynamics in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm. ex Wats.) forests across western North America. The sensitivity of soil C to post-beetle management operations remains unknown in these forests. We quantified total C stocks in the O horizon and upper mineral soil (0–10 cm) 6–7 years after salvage logging in lodgepole pine forests of northern Colorado and compared biomass retention or removal residue management to uncut beetle-infested forests. We evaluated the quantity and chemical composition of C in physical fractions of the O horizon and upper mineral soil layers to better understand how management impacts the quality of C with implications for soil C persistence. Post-harvest residue retention increased O horizon C storage compared to the removal treatment and uncut stands. Total soil C (O horizon and upper 0–10 cm mineral soil) was an average of 11.4 (±5.6) Mg C ha−1 higher in salvage logged plots compared to uncut forests and the increase was primarily in particulate organic matter. Salvage logging did not alter the chemical composition of the soil C fractions analyzed. The C:N ratios, Fourier-transform midinfrared spectra, and 13C values analyses each showed that the C composition of the organic and upper mineral soil layers were distinct. This indicates that physical transfer of fresh or decomposed O horizon material may not be the primary source of particulate C, and we suggest that belowground inputs are likely to be an important contributor to these mineral soils. Our finding that logging residue removal did not reduce post-harvest upper mineral soil C stocks has implications for biomass harvesting in these forests, though the long-term impacts of post-bark beetle management on C storage in these ecosystems depend on understory dynamics, tree regeneration and forest recovery that will progress over the course of decades. This work suggests that greater understanding of post-logging organic matter inputs and C dynamics in O horizon and mineral SOM fractions can help inform forest management aimed at sustaining soil C.
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CitationAvera, Bethany N.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Calderon, Francisco; Cotrufo, M. Francesca. 2020. Soil C storage following salvage logging and residue management in bark beetle-infested lodgepole pine forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 472: 118251.
Keywordssoil carbon, salvage logging, woody residue, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), 13C FTIR
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