Carbon balance of a partially harvested mixed conifer forest following mountain pine beetle attack and its comparison to a clear-cut

Mathys, A.; Black, T. A.; Nesic, Z.; Nishio, G.; Brown, M.; Spittlehouse, D. L.; Fredeen, A. L.; Bowler, R.; Jassal, R. S.; Grant, N. J.; Burton, P. J.; Trofymow, J. A.; Meyer, G.

The recent mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak has had an impact on the carbon (C) cycling of lodgepole pine forests in British Columbia. This study examines how partial harvesting as a forest management response to MPB infestation affects the net ecosystem production (NEP) of a mixed conifer forest (MPB-09) in Interior BC. MPB-09 is a 70-year-old stand that was partially harvested in 2009 after it had been attacked by MPB. Using the eddy-covariance technique, the C dynamics of the stand were studied over two years and compared to an adjacent clear-cut (MPB-09C) over the summertime. The annual NEP at MPB-09 increased from −108 g C m −2 in 2010 to −57 g C m −2 in 2011. The increase of NEP was due to the associated increase in annual gross ecosystem photosynthesis (GEP) from 812 g C m −2 in 2010 to 954 g C m −2 in 2011, exceeding the increase in annual respiration ( Re) from 920 g C m −2 to 1011 g C m −2 during the two years. During the four month period between June and September 2010, NEP at MPB-09C was −103 g C m −2, indicating high C losses in the clear-cut. MPB-09 was a C sink during the growing season of both years, increasing from 9 g C m −2 in 2010 to 47 g C m −2 in 2011. The increase of NEP in the partially harvested stand amounted to a recovery corresponding to a 26% increase in the maximum assimilation rate in the second year. This study shows that retaining the healthy residual forest can result in higher C sequestration of MPB-attacked stands compared to clear-cut harvesting.

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Mathys, A. / Black, T. A. / Nesic, Z. / et al: Carbon balance of a partially harvested mixed conifer forest following mountain pine beetle attack and its comparison to a clear-cut. 2013. Copernicus Publications.

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