Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 123, Issue 4, pp 439–452 | Cite as

Altitudinal changes in carbon storage of temperate forests on Mt Changbai, Northeast China

  • Biao Zhu
  • Xiangping Wang
  • Jingyun FangEmail author
  • Shilong Piao
  • Haihua Shen
  • Shuqing Zhao
  • Changhui Peng
JPR Symposium Carbon cycle process in East Asia


A number of studies have investigated regional and continental scale patterns of carbon (C) stocks in forest ecosystems; however, the altitudinal changes in C storage in different components (vegetation, detritus, and soil) of forest ecosystems remain poorly understood. In this study, we measured C stocks of vegetation, detritus, and soil of 22 forest plots along an altitudinal gradient of 700–2,000 m to quantify altitudinal changes in carbon storage of major forest ecosystems (Pinus koraiensis and broadleaf mixed forest, 700–1,100 m; Picea and Abies forest, 1,100–1,800 m; and Betula ermanii forest, 1,800–2,000 m) on Mt Changbai, Northeast China. Total ecosystem C density (carbon stock per hectare) averaged 237 t C ha−1 (ranging from 112 to 338 t C ha−1) across all the forest stands, of which 153 t C ha−1 (52–245 t C ha−1) was stored in vegetation biomass, 14 t C ha−1 (2.2–48 t C ha−1) in forest detritus (including standing dead trees, fallen trees, and floor material), and 70 t C ha−1 (35–113 t C ha−1) in soil organic matter (1-m depth). Among all the forest types, the lowest vegetation and total C density but the highest soil organic carbon (SOC) density occurred in Betula ermanii forest, whereas the highest detritus C density was observed in Picea and Abies forest. The C density of the three ecosystem components showed distinct altitudinal patterns: with increasing altitude, vegetation C density decreased significantly, detritus C density first increased and then decreased, and SOC density exhibited increasing but insignificant trends. The allocation of total ecosystem C to each component exhibited similar but more significant trends along the altitudinal gradient. Our results suggest that carbon storage and partitioning among different components in temperate forests on Mt Changbai vary greatly with forest type and altitude.


Biomass Detritus Soil organic carbon Carbon allocation Temperate forests Altitudinal gradient 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (#40228001 and #30721140306). We thank K. Tan, Z.J. Zong, and X.L. Zhou for field assistance, Y.H. Yang and Y.H. Chen for laboratory assistance, and Professor W.X. Cheng and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Biao Zhu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Xiangping Wang
    • 1
  • Jingyun Fang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shilong Piao
    • 1
  • Haihua Shen
    • 1
  • Shuqing Zhao
    • 1
  • Changhui Peng
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of EducationPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Biology SciencesUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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