, Volume 114, Issue 1-3, pp 299-311
Date: 13 Nov 2012

Controls on the rate of CO2 emission from woody debris in clearcut and coniferous forest environments

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The rate at which CO2 is released from woody debris post-clearcut affects the long term carbon consequences of such disturbances. Changes in microclimate post-clearcut may alter the rate of woody debris decomposition from that in a mature forest. However, very few studies have explored post-disturbance rates of woody debris respiration and the possible influence of an altered microclimate, and even fewer have considered the role of log position in influencing rates of respiration. This study explored the effects of log position and microclimate variability on the rates of coarse woody debris (CWD) respiration. The rates of respiration of downed Norway spruce (Picea abies) logs were repeatedly measured in situ using an LI-6200 gas analyzer. Treatments included native logs in the clearcut site, native logs in a neighboring mature spruce stand, and logs transferred from the clearcut site to the mature spruce stand. The transfer logs showed the highest rates of respiration (0.44 ± 0.03 g COm−2 log surface h−1), followed by the clearcut logs (0.36 ± 0.02 g CO2 m−2 log surface h−1), and spruce stand logs (0.30 ± 0.02 g CO2 m−2 log surface h−1) (P < 0.01). The boost in respiration found in the transfer treatment group was best explained by increases in log water content, while the slower rate of respiration in the spruce stand logs was best explained by the log’s contact/non-contact with the ground prior to the start of the observational campaign. CWD respiration was found to represent 18 ± 3 % of total daytime ecosystem respiration (R eco).