, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 525–533 | Cite as

The Carbon Balance of an Old-growth Forest: Building Across Approaches

  • Christopher B. FieldEmail author
  • Jörg Kaduk


The carbon budget of the Wind River old-growth forest is being addressed from a variety of perspectives and with a range of approaches. The goal of this comprehensive analysis is developing a thorough, general, and validated understanding of the carbon balance, as well as the processes controlling it. The initial results from studies addressing annual carbon (C) balance with ground-based methods, eddy flux, leaf-based models, and ecosystem models are consistent in some, but not all, respects. Net primary production is 500–600 g C m−2 y−1 (5–6 Mg C ha−1 y−1), consistent with estimates based on climate alone. The site appears to be close to carbon equilibrium, as a multiyear average, using ground-based methods but a sink of approximately 150–190 g C m−2 y−1 from eddy flux for a single year. An overview of the mechanisms that can drive forest carbon sinks illustrates why methods emphasizing different temporal and spatial scales, as well as different processes, can come to different conclusions, and it highlights opportunities in moving toward a truly integrated approach.


old-growth forest carbon balance net primary production eddy flux 



Thanks to all of the researchers and staff at the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Forest. This research was supported 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 DOE.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of LeicesterLeicester LE1 7RHUK

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