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Oecologia. 2004 Dec;141(4):641-51. Epub 2004 Aug 26.

Dead wood biomass and turnover time, measured by radiocarbon, along a subalpine elevation gradient.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Ecosystem Sciences Division, 151 Hilgard Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. kueppers@es.ucsc.edu

Abstract

Dead wood biomass can be a substantial fraction of stored carbon in forest ecosystems, and coarse woody debris (CWD) decay rates may be sensitive to climate warming. We used an elevation gradient in Colorado Rocky Mountain subalpine forest to examine climate and species effects on dead wood biomass, and on CWD decay rate. Using a new radiocarbon approach, we determined that the turnover time of lodgepole pine CWD (340+/-130 years) was roughly half as long in a site with 2.5-3 degrees C warmer air temperature, as that of pine (630+/-400 years) or Engelmann spruce CWD (800+/-960 and 650+/-410 years) in cooler sites. Across all sites and both species, CWD age ranged from 2 to 600 years, and turnover time was 580+/-180 years. Total standing and fallen dead wood biomass ranged from 4.7+/-0.2 to 54+/-1 Mg ha(-1), and from 2.8 to 60% of aboveground live tree biomass. Dead wood biomass increased 75 kg ha(-1) per meter gain in elevation and decreased 13 Mg ha(-1) for every degree C increase in mean air temperature. Differences in biomass and decay rates along the elevation gradient suggest that climate warming will lead to a loss of dead wood carbon from subalpine forest.

PMID:
15338416
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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