, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 317–329 | Cite as

Above- and Belowground Net Primary Production in a Temperate Mixed Deciduous Forest

  • Gregory S. Newman
  • Mary A. Arthur
  • Robert N. Muller


Our current ability to detect and predict changes in forest ecosystem productivity is constrained by several limitations. These include a poor understanding of belowground productivity, the short duration of most analyses, and a need for greater examination of species- or community-specific variability in productivity studies. We quantified aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) over 3 years (1999–2001), and both belowground NPP (BNPP) and total NPP over 2 years (2000–2001) in both mesic and xeric site community types of the mixed mesophytic forest of southeastern Kentucky to examine landscape variability in productivity and its relation with soil resource [water and nitrogen (N)] availability. Across sites, ANPP was significantly correlated with N availability (R2 = 0.58, P = 0.028) while BNPP was best predicted by soil moisture content (R2 = 0.72, P = 0.008). Because of these offsetting patterns, total NPP was unrelated to either soil resource. Interannual variability in growing season precipitation during the study resulted in a 50% decline in mesic site litter production, possibly due to a lag effect following a moderate drought year in 1999. As a result, ANPP in mesic sites declined 27% in 2000 compared to 1999, while xeric sites had no aboveground production differences related to precipitation variability. If global climate change produces more frequent occurrences of drought, then the response of mesic sites to prolonged moisture deficiency and the consequences of shifting carbon (C) allocation on C storage will become important questions.


carbon allocation interannual variability mesic mixed mesophytic forest nitrogen mineralization Quercus, soil moisture total belowground carbon allocation xeric 



This study (#04-09-022) is connected with a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director. Financial support for this research was provided by the Kentucky State Agricultural Experiment Station with McIntire-Stennis funds. We thank C. Goodale and two anonymous reviewers as well as discussions with C. Rhoades, S. Gleeson, and D. Binkley for providing essential improvements to this manuscript. The following people were instrumental in the collection and processing of samples: David Collett, Melvin Dean, Laurant Forfait, Peter Hadjiev, Milinda Hamilton, Clare Park, Susan Patterson, and Lauren Perez. Will Marshall provided logistical support at Robinson Forest. Tree cores were processed and analyzed with the help of Dr. Henri Grissino-Mayer’s laboratory at the University of Tennessee. Graphics were generously created by Greg Abernathy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory S. Newman
    • 1
  • Mary A. Arthur
    • 1
  • Robert N. Muller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ForestryUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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