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Soil carbon and nitrogen pools in mid- to late-successional forest stands of the northwestern United States: Potential impact of fire

Posted date: May 14, 2013
Publication Year: 
2006
Authors: Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Jurgensen, Martin F.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 36(9): 2270-2284.

Abstract

When sampling woody residue (WR) and organic matter (OM) present in forest floor, soil wood, and surface mineral soil (030 cm) in 14 mid- to late-successional stands across a wide variety of soil types and climatic regimes in the northwestern USA, we found that 44%-84% of carbon (C) was in WR and surface OM, whereas >80% of nitrogen (N) was in the mineral soil. In many northwestern forests fire suppression and natural changes in stand composition have increased the amounts of WR and soil OM susceptible to wildfire losses. Stands with high OM concentrations on the soil surface are at greater risk of losing large amounts of C and N after high-severity surface fires. Using the USDA Forest Service Regional Soil Quality Standards and Guidelines, we estimate that 6%-80% of the pooled C to a mineral-soil depth of 30 cm could be lost during a fire considered detrimental to soil productivity. These estimates will vary with local climatic regimes, fire severity across the burned area, the size and decay class of WR, and the distribution of OM in the surface organic and mineral soil. Estimated N losses due to fire were much lower (

Citation

Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Jurgensen, Martin F. 2006. Soil carbon and nitrogen pools in mid- to late-successional forest stands of the northwestern United States: Potential impact of fire. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 36(9): 2270-2284.