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Further Studies of Root Decomposition Following Harvest of a Northern Hardwoods Forest

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An earlier study of decomposition and nutrient release of root systems following harvest of a northern hardwoods forest ecosystem indicated uncertainties with regard to (1) possible experimental effects on decay of fine and woody roots and (2) patterns of woody root decay and nutrient release in the first several years of decay. Results of this study suggested that most fine roots in the forest floor died early in the first growing season after forest harvest, releasing much of their tissue K. In contrast, mineral soil roots either died much more slowly or were not effectively leached of K during most of the first summer. Rates of release of C and N from fine roots were similar, suggesting that previous studies using mesh bags bad either overestimated N release or underestimated C mineralization, or both. Earlier estimates of total N released from fine roots of northern hardwoods in the first 2 yr after harvest probably were too high. Rates of decay of large woody roots of northern hardwoods were high, with 45%-63% dry weight loss in 4 yr as measured with tethered roots, but this method probably overestimated decay by exposing cut ends to decay organisms. High variation in decay rates was associated especially with the site of incubation, as all the roots (independent of species and size class) incubated in a particular location decayed at about the same rate. For. Sci. 40(4):618-629.
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Keywords: Calcium; Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest; mineralization; nitrogen; potassium

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Natural Resources, Fernow Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

Publication date: 1994-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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