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Ecosystems

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 322–335 | Cite as

Patterns of Total Ecosystem Carbon Storage with Changes in Soil Temperature in Boreal Black Spruce Forests

  • E. S. KaneEmail author
  • J. G. Vogel
Article

Abstract

To understand how carbon (C) pools in boreal ecosystems may change with warming, we measured above- and belowground C pools and C increment along a soil temperature gradient across 16 mature upland black spruce (Picea mariana Mill. [B·S.P]) forests in interior Alaska. Total spruce C stocks (stand and root C) increased from 1.3 to 8.5 kg C m−2 with increasing soil summed degree-days (SDD > 0°C at 10 cm) across sites, whereas soil C stocks decreased from 11.9 to 6.3 kg C m−2 with increasing SDD. Spruce C and organic soil C, which combined represent maximum C accrual since the last fire, increased with soil heat sums until 600 SDD, and then plateaued with increasing SDD across sites (R 2 = 0.61, P = 0.002; second-order polynomial regression). The sum of soil and total spruce C (total ecosystem C, TEC) reached its maximum in the middle-range of soil temperatures measured (approximately 600 SDD), and was lower in the coolest (139 SDD) and the warmest (914 SDD) forests. The opposing trends between above- and belowground pools resulted in C shifting from the soil to spruce biomass with warmer soil temperatures. A shift in C distribution from below- to aboveground pools, as temperature increases, has implications for the vulnerability of C lost in boreal forest wildfires. The strongly negative relationship between surface mineral soil C stocks and increasing temperatures warrants further research into the potential loss of deep mineral soil C stocks with continued warming, especially in forests presently underlain with permafrost.

Keywords

organic soil carbon storage biomass climate change fire productivity decomposition permafrost black spruce 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We appreciate David Valentine for academic support and advice during earlier projects. Many sites described herein are maintained by the Bonanza Creek LTER site (funded jointly by NSF grant DEB-0423442 and USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station grant PNW01-JV11261952-231). Financial support also came from the Center for Climate Change Research (UAF), a Department of Energy grant to Edward Schuur and Vogel (NAU DE-FC02-06ER64159), and a Center for Water Sciences fellowship (MSU) to E. S. Kane. We thank Andrew Balser, Carolyn Rosner, and Mike Hay for help with site selection, GPS, and insolation calculations. Jess Guritz helped greatly with biomass harvests. Brian Charlton helped in obtaining spruce litter. Martin Lavoie, Ben Bond-Lamberty, Edward Schuur, Jenny Schaefer, Wendy Loya, and Jon O’Donnell provided helpful comments and review.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Water SciencesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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