, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

The Carbon Cycle of a Maritime Ancient Temperate Broadleaved Woodland at Seasonal and Annual Scales

  • K. FennEmail author
  • Y. Malhi
  • M. Morecroft
  • C. Lloyd
  • M. Thomas


This study compares different approaches to quantifying the carbon cycle in a temperate deciduous forest at Wytham Woods in England, which is unusual in its maritime climate and mixed age structure, reflecting low levels of past management. We tested whether eddy covariance and biometric measurements gave consistent estimates of woodland productivity and ecosystem respiration at monthly and annual timescales. Biometric methods estimated gross primary productivity (GPP) as 22.0 ± 1.6 Mg C ha−1 y−1, close to the eddy covariance GPP value of 21.1 Mg C ha−1 y−1. Annual ecosystem respiration (R ECO) was similar, at 20.3 ± 1.5 Mg C ha−1 y−1 for biometric and 19.8 Mg C ha−1 y−1for eddy covariance. The seasonal cycle of monthly biometric and eddy covariance R ECO estimates also closely matched. Net primary productivity (NPP) was 7.0 ± 0.8 Mg C ha−1 y−1, 37% of which was allocated below ground. Leaf fluxes were the greatest component of NPP and R ECO. Ecosystem carbon-use efficiency (CUE = NPP/GPP) was 0.32 ± 0.04; low compared to many temperate broadleaved sites but close to values for old-growth sites. This may reflect the age of some trees, and/or the oceanic climate with relatively mild winters during which there can be substantial autotrophic maintenance respiration in winter but negligible growth. This study demonstrates that biometric measurements can provide robust estimates of site productivity and respiration and that eddy covariance and bottom-up measurements can be combined on seasonal and interannual timescales to enable a detailed understanding of the forest carbon cycle.


GPP NPP ecosystem respiration component CUE allocation 



Many thanks to everyone who assisted with this work, in particular Michèle Taylor and NERC for the Upper Seeds meteorological data collected under the ECN program, Dave McNeil for installing and maintaining the eddy covariance equipment, and Dr. Terhi Riutta and Earthwatch-HSBC volunteers for collecting and sorting the autumn 2008 leaf litter. KMF was supported by a NERC Studentship at Oxford University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Some manuscript editing took place whilst KMF was at SLU, Umeå, Sweden, funded by a Kempe Foundation stipend. YM is supported by the Jackson Foundation, the Oxford Martin School, and an Advanced Investigator Award of the European Research Council. Thorough, constructive comments by reviewers improved this manuscript and are greatly appreciated.

Supplementary material

10021_2014_9793_MOESM1_ESM.rtf (243 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (RTF 243 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Fenn
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Y. Malhi
    • 1
  • M. Morecroft
    • 2
    • 4
  • C. Lloyd
    • 2
  • M. Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyWallingfordUK
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  4. 4.Natural EnglandWinchesterUK

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