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Positive Relationship between Aboveground Carbon Stocks and Structural Diversity in Spruce-Dominated Forest Stands in New Brunswick, Canada

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Maintaining both the structure and functionality of forest ecosystems is a primary goal of forest management. In this study, relationships between structural diversity and aboveground stand carbon (C) stocks were examined in spruce-dominated forests in New Brunswick, Canada. Tree species, size, and height diversity indices as well as a combination of these diversity indices were used to correlate aboveground C stocks. Multiple linear regressions were subsequently used to quantify the relationships between these indices and aboveground C stocks, and partial correlation analysis was also adopted to remove the effects of other explanatory variables. Results show that stand structural diversity has a significant positive effect on aboveground C stocks even though the relationship is weak overall. Positive relationships observed between the diversity indices and aboveground C stocks support the hypothesis that increased structural diversity enhances aboveground C storage capacity. This occurs because complex forest structures allow for greater light infiltration and promote a more efficient resource use by trees, leading to an increase in biomass and C production. Mixed tolerant species composition and uneven-aged stand management in conjunction with selection or partial cutting to maintain high structural diversity is therefore recommended to preserve biodiversity and C stocks in spruce-dominated forests.

Keywords: Shannon-Wiener index; forest management; niche complementarity hypothesis; stand structure

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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.

    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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