Carbon pools in a boreal mixedwood logging chronosequence


Jennifer L. Martin, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, 1630 Linden Drive, 120 Russell Labs, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA, tel. +(608) 262 6369, fax +(608) 262 9922, e-mail:


Mixedwood forests are an ecologically and economically important forest type in central Canada, but the ecology of these forests is not as well studied as that of single-species dominated stands in the boreal forest. Northern boreal mixedwood forests have only recently been harvested and the effects of harvesting on carbon content in these stands are unknown. We quantified the carbon content and aboveground net primary production (NPP) for four different-aged mixedwood boreal forest stands in northern Manitoba, Canada. The stands included 11-, 18-, and 30-year-old stands that originated from harvesting and a 65-year-old fire-originated stand that typifies the origin of all northern boreal mixed-wood forests that are coming under management. Trees included black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.), jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera L.), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.). Overstory biomass was estimated using species-specific allometric models that generally explained greater than 95% of the observed variation in biomass. Carbon content of the overstory vegetation was greatest in the 65-year-old stand and was 74% larger than the 11-year-old stand and showed a positive relationship with stand age (F1, 2=122.62, P=0.0081 R2=0.99). The slope of mineral soil carbon did not differ significantly among stands (F1, 2=0.39, P=0.5956, R2=0.16). Coarse woody debris carbon content followed a U-shaped pattern among stands. Aboveground NPP differed by 24% between the youngest and oldest stand. Mean annual carbon accumulation and aboveground NPP rates of the mixedwood forests were on average two times greater than nearby relatively pure stands studied during the BOREAS (BOReal Ecosystem Atmospheric Study) project. The trends in the results, along with other field studies, suggest that harvesting does not significantly affect the total soil carbon content. The results of this study suggest that scientists should be cautious about extrapolating results from BOREAS stands to a broader region until more data on other forest types and regions are available.