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Forest and Pasture Carbon Pools and Soil Respiration in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

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Our ability to estimate the changes in carbon (C) pools and fluxes due to forest conversion is hampered by a lack of comparative studies. We measured above- and belowground C pools and soil respiration flux at four forested and four pasture sites in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Above- and belowground C pools were significantly larger (P < 0.01, t-test) at forested sites relative to pasture sites. The largest differences were in aboveground live biomass, which averaged 152 Mg ha−1 C at the forested sites and 1.9 Mg ha−1 at the pasture sites. Coarse root and stump C and surface detritus were also substantially different, averaging 41.3 and 32.6 Mg ha−1 C, respectively, at the forested sites, and less than 1 Mg ha−1 at the pasture sites. Fine root C was higher and mineral soil C lower at pasture sites relative to comparable forested sites, but neither difference was statistically significant. Soil respiration at a given temperature was generally lower at pasture sites relative to forest sites. However, soil temperatures at pastures were consistently higher than at forest sites. Estimated annual soil respiration flux averaged 10.9 Mg C ha−1 at the pasture sites and 12.6 Mg C ha−1 at the forested sites. FOR. SCI. 51(4):372–383.

Keywords: Land use change; biomass; carbon; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forest Resources University of Minnesota St. Paul MN 55108, Email: 2: Coweeta Hydrologic Lab USFS Southern Forest Experiment Station Otto NC 28763, Email:

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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