, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 498–512 | Cite as

Production, Respiration, and Overall Carbon Balance in an Old-growth Pseudotsuga-Tsuga Forest Ecosystem

  • Mark E. HarmonEmail author
  • Ken Bible
  • Michael G. Ryan
  • David C. Shaw
  • H. Chen
  • Jeffrey Klopatek
  • Xia Li


Ground-based measurements of stores, growth, mortality, litterfall, respiration, and decomposition were conducted in an old-growth forest at Wind River Experimental Forest, Washington, USA. These measurements were used to estimate gross primary production (GPP) and net primary production (NPP); autotrophic respiration (Ra) and heterotrophic (Rh) respiration; and net ecosystem production (NEP). Monte Carlo methods were used to calculate uncertainty (expressed as ± 2 standard deviations of 200–400 calculations). Live carbon (C) stores were 39,800 g C m−2 (34,800–44,800 g C m−2). The store of C in detritus and mineral soil was 22,092 g C m−2 (20,600–23,600 g C m−2), and the total C stores were 61,899 g C m−2 (56,600–67,700 g C m−2). Total NPP was 597 g C m−2 y−1 (453 to 741 g C m−2 y−1). Ra was 1309 g C m−2 y−1 (845–1773 g C m−2 y−1), indicating a GPP of 1906 g C m−2 y−1 (1444–2368 g C m−2 y−1). Rh, including the respiration of heart rots in tree boles, was 577 g C m−2 y−1 (479–675 g C m−2 y−1). Long-term NEP was estimated to be +20 g C m−2 y−1 (−116 to +156 g C m−2 y−1), indicating this stand might be a small sink. These estimates contrast with the larger sink estimated at the same site using eddy-flux methods. Several hypotheses to explain this discrepancy were explored, including (a) undetected biomass increases, (b) underestimates of NPP, (c) unmeasured losses, and (d) a temporal mismatch between the two sets of measurements. The last hypothesis appears the most likely.


autotrophic respiration carbon flux carbon stores decomposition gross primary production (GPP) heterotrophic respiration net ecosystem production (NEP) net primary production (NPP) 



We thank Mr. Jay Sexton and Ms. Becky Fasth for helping to collect much of the data used in this study. This research was funded in part by the Pacific Northwest Research Station and the H. J. Andrews Long-term Ecological Research Program (DEB-9632921). This research was also supported in part by the Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research Program (BER), US Department of Energy (DOE), through the Western Regional Center (WESTGEC) of the National Institute for Global Environmental Change (NIGEC) under Cooperative Agreement DE-FC03-90ER61010. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the DOE.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark E. Harmon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ken Bible
    • 2
  • Michael G. Ryan
    • 3
  • David C. Shaw
    • 2
  • H. Chen
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Klopatek
    • 4
  • Xia Li
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.College of Forest ResourcesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Rocky Mountain Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant BiologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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