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Fire and site type effects on the long-term carbon and nitrogen balance in pristine Siberian Scots pine forests

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Wirth,  C.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Schulze,  E.-D.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Lühker,  B.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Siry,  M.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Hardes,  G.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Ziegler,  W.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Backor,  M.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Wirth, C., Schulze, E.-D., Lühker, B., Grigoriev, S., Siry, M., Hardes, G., et al. (2002). Fire and site type effects on the long-term carbon and nitrogen balance in pristine Siberian Scots pine forests. Plant and Soil, 242(1), 41-63. doi:10.1023/A:1020813505203.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-CFFA-F
Abstract
Effects of fire and site type on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) balances were determined by following the change of total and component C and N pools along four chronosequences of fire- prone Siberian Scots pine ecosystems. These differed in the mean return interval of surface fires (unburned - moderately burned, 40 years - heavily burned, 25 years) and site quality (lichen versus Vaccinium site type). Of the Vaccinium site type (higher site quality) only a moderately burned chronosequence was studied. A total of 22 even-aged stands were investigated with stand ages ranging from 2 to 383 years. The C balance was dominated by the opposing dynamics of coarse woody debris (CWD) and biomass and could be divided into three phases: (1) Young stands (up to 40 years) acted as a net source for C of 6-10 mol C m(-2) year(-1) because the previous generation CWD pool originating from stand-replacing crown fires decayed much faster than biomass increased. During this period the C pool in the unburned lichen type chronosequence decreased from 807 to 480 mol C m(-2). (2) Middle aged stands (40-100 years) being in a stage of maximum biomass accumulation were a net sink of 8-10 mol C m(-2) year(-1). (3)Mature stands (100 to > 350 years) continued to sequester C at a lower rate (0.8-2.5mol C m(-2) year(-1)). Differences in the rates of C sequestration during the two later phases could be explained by the complex interaction between surface fire regime and site type. Recurrent surface fires resulted in enhanced mortality and regularly redistributed C from the living to the CWD pool thereby lowering the rate of C sequestration. Site quality determined the potential to recover from disturbance by fire events. Differences in site type did not correlate with soil and total ecosystem N pool size. However, the N status of needles as well as the N pool of physiologically active tissue was highest in the stands of the Vaccinium type. The 'woody' C pool (biomass + CWD) was sensitive to differences in surface fire regime and site type. It was lowest in the heavily burned lichen type chronosequence (297 +/- 108 mol C m(-2)), intermediate in the unburned and moderately burned lichen type chronosequence (571 +/- 179 mol C m(-2)) and highest in the moderately burned Vaccinium type chronosequence (810 +/- 334 mol C m(-2)). In contrast, the total soil C pool (organic plus mineral layer down to a depth of 25 cm) was independent of stand age, surface fire regime and site type and fluctuated around a value of 250 mol C m(-2). The organic layer C pool oscillated in response to recurring surface fires and its C pool was dependent on time since fire increasing at a rate of about 1.5 mol C m(-2) year(-1) during the first 40 years and then reaching a plateau of 170 mol C m(-2). The total ecosystem N pool was 7.4 +/- 1.5 mol N m(-2) on average of which only 25 % were stored in biomass or coarse woody debris. Total ecosystem N was independent of stand age, surface fire regime and site type. No correlation was found between total ecosystem C and N pools. Average total ecosystem C:N ratio was 114 +/- 35 mol C mol N-1. A conceptual model illustrating how changes in the regime of stand-replacing crown fires and recurrent surface fires and changes in site quality interact in determining the long-term C balance in Siberian Scots pine forests is presented.