Skip to main content

Accumulation and decay of woody detritus in a humid subtropical secondary pine forest

Buy Article:

$50.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


The contribution of coarse woody detritus (CWD) to forest C budgets is poorly quantified in general, and especially so for secondary forests. This study quantifies C and N storage in logs and snags and compares the decomposition of this aboveground CWD with that of dead taproots in a 50-year-old secondary pine forest in a humid subtropical climate. We estimated rates of CWD input due to tree mortality over 50 years of forest development and conducted a field inventory of aboveground CWD of four decay classes. Belowground CWD was characterized by excavating 13 taproots of three decay classes. We found that aboveground CWD in this warm and humid climate decays relatively rapidly, with an exponential decay constant of 0.122 and mean time to decomposition of 50% and 95% log mass of 5.6 and 24.3 years, respectively. Our data suggest that most dead trees proceed through the earliest stage of decomposition as standing snags before falling to the ground. We found that changes in wood chemistry during decomposition were similar above and below ground. After 50 years of forest development, logs, snags, and dead taproots comprised 13% of total forest ecosystem C in this secondary pine forest.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Box 90328, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • 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.
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Sample Issue
  • Reprints & Permissions
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more