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Carbon stocks and soil respiration rates during deforestation, grassland use and subsequent Norway spruce afforestation in the Southern Alps, Italy

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons62585

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

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons62349

Buchmann,  N.
Research Group Biodiversity Ecosystem, Dr. N. Buchmann, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons62549

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

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Thuille, A., Buchmann, N., & Schulze, E.-D. (2000). Carbon stocks and soil respiration rates during deforestation, grassland use and subsequent Norway spruce afforestation in the Southern Alps, Italy. Tree Physiology, 20(13), 849-857. doi:10.1093/treephys/20.13.849.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-CD30-3
Abstract
Changes in carbon stocks during deforestation, reforestation and afforestation play an important role in the global carbon cycle. Cultivation of forest lands leads to substantial losses in both biomass and soil carbon, whereas forest regrowth is considered to be a significant carbon sink. We examined below- and aboveground carbon stocks along a chronosequence of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stands (0-62 years old) regenerating on abandoned meadows in the Southern Alps. A 130-year-old mixed coniferous Norway spruce-white fir (Abies alba Mill.) forest, managed by selection cutting, was used as an undisturbed control. Deforestation about 260 years ago led to carbon losses of 53 Mg C ha(-1) from the organic layer and 12 Mg C ha(-1) from the upper mineral horizons (A(h) E). During the next 200 years of grassland use, the new Ah horizon sequestered 29 Mg C ha(-1). After the abandonment of these meadows, carbon stocks in tree stems increased exponentially during natural forest succession, levelling off at about 190 Mg C ha(-1) in the 62-year-old Norway spruce and the 130-year-old Norway spruce-white fir stands. In contrast, carbon stocks in the organic soil layer increased linearly with stand age. During the first 62 years, carbon accumulated at a rate of 0.36 Mg C ha(-1) L year(-1) in the organic soil layer. No clear trend with stand age was observed for the carbon stocks in the Ah horizon. Soil respiration rates were similar for all forest stands independently of organic layer thickness or carbon stocks, but the highest rates were observed in the cultivated meadow. Thus, increasing litter inputs by forest vegetation compared with the meadow, and constantly low decomposition rates of coniferous litter were probably responsible for continuous soil carbon sequestration during forest succession. Carbon accumulation in woody biomass seemed to slow down after 60 to 80 years, but continued in the organic soil layer. We conclude that, under present climatic conditions, forest soils act as more persistent carbon sinks than vegetation that will be harvested, releasing the carbon sequestered during tree growth. [References: 43]