The Upper Lake States region is marked by major disturbances of fire and logging over 100 years ago that created a landscape mosaic of early successional forests. Given the intimate link between soil N availability and forest growth in this region, it is important to understand how temporal changes in soil N constrain the rate at which forest biomass accumulates following a stand-destroying disturbance. Bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata Michx.) currently dominates sites where primarily old-growth pine-hemlock-oak forests once thrived, which provides an opportunity to observe nearly 100 years of succession following severe disturbance. In this study, we examine the relationship between soil N availability and biomass accrual in a series of plots undergoing secondary succession following logging and burning. Our results demonstrate that total aboveground biomass and nitrogen accrual patterns are strongly and positively related on a highly disturbed, bigtooth aspen-dominated ecosystem in northern Lower Michigan. Nitrogen mineralization and nitrification were highest immediately following disturbance, and then decreased over the next approximately 20 years of succession. Following this short-term decrease, these processes increased and attained a maximum value after 70 years of forest succession. Understory biomass accumulation showed the opposite trend of nutrient availability, with highest values during the first 20 years of succession, followed by a dramatic decrease for the next 70 years. Understory biomass began to decrease as plants grew into the overstory or died. Total aboveground biomass was correlated with N mineralization (r=0.894; P=0.041) and nitrification (r=0.782; P=0.118) and appears to be increasing steadily to some maximum that has not yet been reached. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional Publication Details
Biomass accumulation and soil nitrogen availability in an 87-year-old Populus grandidentata chronosequence