Old-Growth Forests

Volume 207 of the series Ecological Studies pp 159-190


Woody Detritus its Contribution to Carbon Dynamics of Old-Growth Forests: the Temporal Context

  • Mark E. HarmonAffiliated withDepartment of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University Email author 

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Net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB) and carbon stores vary greatly over secondary succession in forests because of the interactions of live and dead wood. Depending on the amount of dead wood left by disturbance, the temporal trend in dead wood mass may resemble a reverse J-, U- or S-shape. The higher the amount of legacy dead wood, the longer NECB will remain negative. The accumulation of new (de novo) dead wood during succession can extend the period of positive NECB into the old-growth phase of succession. Harvest can reduce dead wood stores to one-tenth that found in natural forests.