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Soil respiration in a fire scar chronosequence of Canadian boreal jack pine forest

By Daniel Robert Smith


This research investigates soil respiration (Rs) in a boreal jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) fire scar chronosequence at Sharpsand Creek, Ontario, Canada. During two field campaigns in 2006 and 2007, Rs was measured in a chronosequence of fire scars in the range 0 to 59 years since fire. Mean Rs adjusted for soil temperature (Ts) and soil moisture (Ms) (Rs T,M) ranged from 0.56 μmol CO2/m2/s (32 years post fire) to 8.18 μmol CO2/m2/s (58 years post fire). Coefficient of variation (CV) of Rs adjusted for Ts and Ms ranged from 20% (16 years post fire) to 56% (58 years post fire). Across the field site, there was a significant exponential relationship between Rs adjusted for soil organic carbon (Cs) and Ts (P = 1.24*10-06; Q10 = 2.21) but no effect of Ms on Rs adjusted for Cs and Ts for the range 0.21 to 0.77 volumetric Ms (P = 0.702). Rs T,M significantly (P = 0.030) decreased after burning mature forest, though no significant (P > 0.1) difference could be detected between recently burned and unburned young forest. Rs was measured in recently burned boreal jack pine fire scar age categories that differed in their burn history and there was a significant difference in Rs T,M between previously 32 v 16 year old (P = 0.000) and previously 32 v 59 year old (P = 0.044) scars. There was a strong significant exponential increase in S R T,M with time since fire (r2 = 0.999; P = 0.006) for the chronosequence 0, 16 and 59 years post fire, and for all these age categories, Rs T,M was significantly different from one another (P < 0.05). The Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) was used to model vegetation re-growth over successional time at Sharpsand Creek, though it appeared to perform poorly in simulating leaf area index and canopy height. JULES probably over estimated heterotrophic Rs at Sharpsand Creek when Ts corrected simulated values were compared with measured Rs T,M. The results of this study contribute to a better quantitative understanding of Rs in boreal jack pine fire scars and will facilitate improvements in C cycle modelling. Further work is needed in quantifying autotrophic and heterotrophic contributions to soil respiration in jack pine systems, monitoring soil respiration for extended time periods after fire and improving the ability of JULES to simulate successional vegetation re-growth

Topics: Below ground respiration, boreal forest, Canada, carbon, fire scar chronosequence, forest fire, jack pine, Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES), land surface model, Pinus banksiana Lamb., podzol, soil respiration, soil surface CO2 efflux, Top-down Representation of Interactive Foliage and Flora Including Dynamics (TRIFFID)
Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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