Get access

Carbon distribution of a well- and poorly-drained black spruce fire chronosequence


Chuankuan Wang, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA, tel. +608 262 6369, fax +608 262 9922, e-mail:


The objective of this study was to quantify carbon (C) distribution for boreal black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) stands comprising a fire chronosequence in northern Manitoba, Canada. The experimental design included seven well-drained (dry) and seven poorly-drained (wet) stands that burned between 1998 and 1850. Vegetation C pools (above-ground + below-ground) steadily increased from 1.3 to 83.3 t C ha−1 for the dry chronosequence, and from 0.6 to 37.4 t C ha−1 for the wet chronosequence. The detritus C pools (woody debris + forest floor) varied from 10.3 to 96.0 t C ha−1 and from 12.6 to 77.4 t C ha−1 for the dry and wet chronosequence, respectively. Overstorey biomass, mean annual biomass increment (MAI), woody debris mass, and litterfall were significantly greater (α = 0.05) for the dry stands than for the wet stands, but the bryophyte, understorey, and forest floor C pools were significantly less for the dry than for the wet stands. The root mass ratio decreased with stand age until 37 years after fire, was fairly constant thereafter, and was not significantly affected by soil drainage. The C pools of the overstorey and bryophyte tended to increase with stand age. Foliage biomass, litterfall, and MAI (for the dry stands) peaked at 71 years after fire and declined in the oldest stands. The results from this study illustrate that the effects of disturbance and edaphic conditions must be accounted for in boreal forest C inventories and C models. The appropriateness of using chronosequences to examine effects of wildfire on ecosystem C distribution is discussed.

Get access to the full text of this article