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Initial Response of Soil Carbon and Nitrogen to Harvest Intensity and Competing Vegetation Control in Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Plantations of the Pacific Northwest

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We assessed the effect of harvest type (bole-only or whole-tree) and vegetation control treatments (initial or annual application of herbicide) on soil C and N at two contrasting sites in the Pacific Northwest. Pretreatment (2003) and posttreatment (2005) soil samples were collected by depth to 60 cm, and a stratified sampling approach based on four surface conditions was used for posttreatment sampling in surface soils. Surface condition had a significant effect on soil C and N concentrations, generally decreasing with decreasing amounts of logging debris and increasing soil disturbance. There was no difference between harvest treatments in the change in soil C and N content despite differences in surface condition coverage between harvest types, indicating estimates of C and N change determined from the stratification approach were imprecise. Soil C and N content tended to increase regardless of treatment, but increases were significant only in the bole-only harvest at one site and in the whole-tree harvest at the other site. Initial vegetation control caused significantly greater positive change in soil C and N than the annual vegetation control treatment, with effects limited to surface soil at one site and all sample depths at the other site. Much of these increases occurred in deeper (>20 cm) parts of the soil profile, indicating that deep soil sampling is necessary for assessment of harvest-related change in soil C and N.

Keywords: biomass; intensive forest management; soil depth; stratified sampling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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  • 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.
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