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Wood Biomass and Carbon Pools within a Floodplain Forest of the Congaree River, South Carolina, USA

  • Matthew C. RickerEmail author
  • Gavin D. Blosser
  • William H. Conner
  • B. Graeme Lockaby
General Wetland Science


Riverine forests support high rates of plant productivity, yet total wood carbon (C) stocks in these systems remain understudied. We measured C concentrations and dry mass of live and dead detrital wood to understand their importance relative to total ecosystem C storage across an elevation gradient on the floodplain of the Congaree River. Our study sites included a low elevation bald cypress swamp and three higher elevation mature mixed bottomland hardwood communities. Average wood C concentration was 45.9 ± 0.07% and estimated cumulative C pools (sum of downed and standing dead wood plus live tree, sapling, and shrub wood) ranged from 6850 to 17,200 g C/m2 for bottomland hardwood forests and 17,700 g C/m2 for the bald cypress swamp. Most of the aboveground C was stored in living wood (83.1–90.5% total aboveground pools). Our results indicate that the mass and C stored in live and dead wood are at the high end of both measured and modeled ranges reported in the literature for temperate zone forests. As such, the mature bottomland forests of the Congaree River represent a substantial and important store of sequestered C.


Carbon pools Woody debris Bottomland forest 



The authors thank Steven Hutchinson, Jamie Duberstein, Brian Williams, Lauren Behnke, Robin Governo, Andrew Parsons, and Robert Price for their assistance in the field and laboratory. The authors are grateful to Dr. William Bridges, Jr. for statistical guidance as well as Drs. Alex Chow and Bo Song for editing initial versions of this manuscript. Special thanks to Cliff Hupp and Ed Schenk with the United States Geological Survey for quantifying plot elevations and all personnel at Congaree National Park that supported this research. The project described in this publication was supported by Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number G10 AC00157 from the United States Geological Survey administered through the Piedmont South-Atlantic Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) and by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)/USDA, under Project No. SCZ-1700531. Technical Contribution No. 6711 of the Clemson University Experimental Station.

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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest ScienceClemson UniversityGeorgetownUSA
  3. 3.School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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