, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 61-71

First online:

Fluxes of greenhouse gases between soils and the atmosphere in a temperate forest following a simulated hurricane blowdown

  • Richard D. BowdenAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Science, Allegheny College
  • , Mark S. CastroAffiliated withThe Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory
  • , Jerry M. MelilloAffiliated withThe Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory
  • , Paul A. SteudlerAffiliated withThe Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory
  • , John D. AberAffiliated withComplex Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire

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Fluxes of nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) between soils and the atmosphere were measured monthly for one year in a 77-year-old temperate hardwood forest following a simulated hurricane blowdown. Emissions of CO2 and uptake of CH4 for the control plot were 4.92 MT C ha−1 y−1 and 3.87 kg C ha−1 y−1, respectively, and were not significantly different from the blowdown plot. Annual N2O emissions in the control plot (0.23 kg N ha−1 y−1) were low and were reduced 78% by the blowdown. Net N mineralization was not affected by the blowdown. Net nitrification was greater in the blowdown than in the control, however, the absolute rate of net nitrification, as well as the proportion of mineralized N that was nitrified, remained low. Fluxes of CO2 and CH4 were correlated positively to soil temperature, and CH, uptake showed a negative relationship to soil moisture. Substantial resprouting and leafing out of downed or damaged trees, and increased growth of understory vegetation following the blowdown, were probably responsible for the relatively small differences in soil temperature, moisture, N availability, and net N mineralization and net nitrification between the control and blowdown plots, thus resulting in no change in CO2 or CH4 fluxes, and no increase in N2O emissions.

Key words

Atmospheric chemistry carbon dioxide disturbance hurricane methane nitrification nitrous oxide soils temperate forest