This study investigated the role of fire-killed woody debris as a source of soil carbon in black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) stands in Manitoba, Canada. We measured the amount of standing dead and downed woody debris along an upland chronosequence, including wood partially and completely covered by moss growth. Such woody debris is rarely included in measurement protocols and composed up to 26% of the total amount of woody debris in older stands, suggesting that it is important to measure all types of woody debris in ecosystems where burial by organic matter is possible. Based on these data and existing net primary production (NPP) values, we used a mass-balance model to assess the potential impact of fire-killed wood on long-term carbon storage at this site. The amount of carbon stored in deeper soil organic layers, which persists over millennia, was used to represent this long-term carbon. We estimate that between 10% and 60% of the deep-soil carbon is derived from wood biomass. Sensitivity analyses suggest that this estimate is most affected by the fire return interval, decay rate of wood, amount of NPP, and decay rate of the char (postfire) carbon pool. Landscape variations in these terms could account for large differences in deep-soil carbon. The model was less sensitive to fire consumption rates and to rates at which standing dead becomes woody debris. All model runs, however, suggest that woody debris plays an important role in long-term carbon storage for this area. ?? 2005 NRC Canada.
Additional publication details
Woody debris along an upland chronosequence in boreal Manitoba and its impact on long-term carbon storage