Further Studies of Root Decomposition Following Harvest of a Northern Hardwoods Forest
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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Document Type: Journal Article
Affiliations: Department of Natural Resources, Fernow Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
Publication date: 1994-11-01
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