Disturbances are important for renewal of North American forests. Here we summarize more than 180 site years of eddy covariance measurements of carbon dioxide flux made at forest chronosequences in North America. The disturbances included stand-replacing fire (Alaska, Arizona, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan) and harvest (British Columbia, Florida, New Brunswick, Oregon, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Wisconsin) events, insect infestations (gypsy moth, forest tent caterpillar, and mountain pine beetle), Hurricane Wilma, and silvicultural thinning (Arizona, California, and New Brunswick). Net ecosystem production (NEP) showed a carbon loss from all ecosystems following a stand-replacing disturbance, becoming a carbon sink by 20 years for all ecosystems and by 10 years for most. Maximum carbon losses following disturbance (g C m−2y−1) ranged from 1270 in Florida to 200 in boreal ecosystems. Similarly, for forests less than 100 years old, maximum uptake (g C m−2y−1) was 1180 in Florida mangroves and 210 in boreal ecosystems. More temperate forests had intermediate fluxes. Boreal ecosystems were relatively time invariant after 20 years, whereas western ecosystems tended to increase in carbon gain over time. This was driven mostly by gross photosynthetic production (GPP) because total ecosystem respiration (ER) and heterotrophic respiration were relatively invariant with age. GPP/ER was as low as 0.2 immediately following stand-replacing disturbance reaching a constant value of 1.2 after 20 years. NEP following insect defoliations and silvicultural thinning showed lesser changes than stand-replacing events, with decreases in the year of disturbance followed by rapid recovery. NEP decreased in a mangrove ecosystem following Hurricane Wilma because of a decrease in GPP and an increase in ER.
Earth Systems Research Center
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Amiro, B.D., Barr, A.G., Barr, J.G., Black, T.A., Bracho, R., Brown, M., Chen, J., Clark, K.L., Davis, K.J., Desai, A.R., Dore, S., Engel, V., Fuentes, J.D., Goldstein, A.H., Goulden, M.L., Kolb, T.E., Lavigne, M.B., Law, B.E., Margolis, H.A., Martin, T., McCaughey, J.H., Misson, L., Montes-Helu, M., Noormets, A., Randerson, J.T., Starr, G., Xiao, J. (2010). Ecosystem carbon 7 dioxide fluxes after disturbance in forests of North America. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, 115, G00K02, doi:10.1029/2010JG001390.
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