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Individual Highlight

High Forest Productivity Often Comes at the Expense of Soil Carbon Storage

Photo of Greater frequency of harvests and physical disturbance of soil in managed forests results in higher respiration and soil carbon loss. U.S. Forest Service - Bugwood.orgGreater frequency of harvests and physical disturbance of soil in managed forests results in higher respiration and soil carbon loss. U.S. Forest Service - Bugwood.orgSnapshot : Forest Service scientists and their research partners are studying the role of managed forests in regional carbon, water, and energy exchange to understand how managed forests contribute to land-atmosphere feedbacks and climate dynamics.

Principal Investigators(s) :
McNulty, StevenSun, Ge
Research Location : Global
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 938

Summary

An increasing fraction of global wood and fiber needs is met by intensively managed plantations. Since forests capture and store large amounts of carbon that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere as climate warming carbon dioxide, researchers need to understand how managed forests affect regional carbon cycling and atmospheric feedbacks. Forest Service scientists at the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and their collaborators reviewed current global datasets that underline large differences in forest structure and standing carbon stocks between managed and unmanaged stands. The researchers discovered that in managed forests, carbon is stored differently in plant parts, signaling a tradeoff between above-ground productivity and below-ground carbon storage. The researchers also found that the greater frequency of harvests and physical disturbance of soil in managed forests results in higher respiration and soil carbon loss. These findings can help land managers develop strategies for maximizing the ecosystem services and benefits derived from managed forests, including soil carbon storage.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Asko Noormets, J.-C. Domec, John King, North Carolina State University
  • Daniel Epron, Universit√© de Lorraine, France
  • Thomas Fox, Virginia Tech

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