Although mature black spruce forests are a dominant cover type in the boreal forest of North America, it is not clear how their carbon (C) budgets vary across the continent. The installation of an eddy covariance flux tower on an Old Black Spruce (OBS) site in eastern Canada (EOBS, Québec) provided a first opportunity to compare and contrast its annual (2004) and seasonal C exchange with two other pre-existing OBS flux sites from different climatic regions located in Saskatchewan [Southern OBS (SOBS)] and Manitoba [Northern OBS (NOBS)]. Although there was a relatively uniform seasonal pattern of net ecosystem productivity (NEP) among sites, EOBS had a lower total annual NEP than the other two sites. This was primarily because warmer soil under a thicker snowpack at EOBS appeared to increase winter C losses and low light suppressed both NEP and gross ecosystem productivity (GEP) in June. Across sites, greater total annual GEP and ecosystem respiration (R) were associated with greater mean annual air temperatures and an earlier beginning of the growing season. Also, GEP at all three sites showed a stronger relationship with air temperature in spring and early summer compared with later in the growing season, highlighting the importance of springtime conditions to the C budget of these boreal ecosystems. The three sites had different parameter estimates describing the responses of R and GEP at the half hour time scale to near surface temperature and light, respectively. On the other hand, the responses of both R and GEP to temperature at the monthly scale did not differ among sites. These results suggest that a general parameterization could be sufficient at coarse time resolutions to model the response of C exchange to environmental factors of mature black spruce forests from different climatic regions.
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