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Post-fire forest floor development along toposequences of white spruce - trembling aspen mixedwood communities in west-central Alberta

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Abstract:

After wildfire in the boreal forest, storage of organic carbon (C) begins with the accumulation of forest floor material. Soil properties of Gray Luvisols were studied to determine the differences in development along three toposequences. Our central hypothesis is that slope position does not influence the amount of accumulated organic C and total nitrogen (N) in the forest floor. Organic C and the C/N ratio in the forest floor and in A and B horizons increased from the crest to the toe of the slope. The forest floor contributed 2.0 ± 0.4 kg C·m–2 (mean ± SE) at the crest to 3.5 ± 0.5 kg C·m–2 at the toe. Throughout the solum, the C/N ratio was lower at the top of the slope compared with the toe (p < 0.05), and there were no differences among slope positions for in situ net N mineralization rates. Leaf area index, used as a proxy for net primary productivity, was greater (p < 0.05) at the toe compared with the crest position, and it was negatively correlated with forest floor total N concentration (r = –0.35, p = 0.027). These results, from mixedwood stands approximately 90 years after the last major fire disturbance, indicate that slope position does influence forest floor organic C by horizon volume (p = 0.02), but not total N concentration (p = 0.07). Despite the apparently lower N availability at the toe position, it exhibited the greatest potential productivity.

Après un feu dans la forêt boréale, le stockage du carbone organique (C) débute avec l'accumulation des matériaux qui constituent le parterre forestier. Les propriétés des luvisols gris ont été étudiées pour déterminer les différences dans le développement le long de trois séquences topographiques. Notre hypothèse principale est que la position sur la pente n'influence pas la quantité de C organique et d'azote (N) total accumulés dans le parterre forestier. Le C organique et le rapport C/N dans le parterre forestier et dans les horizons A et B, ont augmenté du sommet au pied de la pente. Le parterre forestier contribuait 2,0 ± 0,4 kg C·m–2 (moyenne ± erreur type) au sommet jusqu'à 3,5 ± 0,5 kg C·m–2 au pied. Partout dans le solum, le ratio C/N était plus faible au sommet qu'au pied de la pente (p < 0,05) et il n'y avait pas de différence dans le taux de minéralisation nette in situ entre différentes positions sur la pente. L'indice de surface foliaire, utilisé comme indice de productivité primaire nette, était plus élevé (p < 0,05) au pied qu'au sommet et il était négativement corrélé avec la concentration de N total dans le parterre forestier (r = –0,35, p = 0,027). Ces résultats, qui proviennent de peuplements mélangés approximativement 90 ans après la dernière perturbation majeure due au feu, indiquent que la position sur la pente influence le C organique dans le parterre forestier sur la base du volume par horizon (p = 0,02), mais non la concentration de N total (p = 0,07). Bien que la disponibilité de N soit apparemment plus faible au pied de la pente, c'est là qu'on retrouve la plus forte productivité potentielle.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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