Carbon stocks across a chronosequence of thinned and unmanaged red pine (Pinus resinosa) stands
Ecological Applications. 22(4): 1297-1307.
Forests function as a major global C sink, and forest management strategies that maximize C stocks offer one possible means of mitigating the impacts of increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. We studied the effects of thinning, a common management technique in many forest types, on age-related trends in C stocks using a chronosequence of thinned and unmanaged red pine (Pinus resinosa) stands ranging from 9 to 306 years old. Live tree C stocks increased with age to a maximum near the middle of the chronosequence in unmanaged stands, and increased across the entire chronosequence in thinned stands. C in live understory vegetation and C in the mineral soil each declined rapidly with age in young stands but changed relatively little in middle-aged to older stands regardless of management. Forest floor C stocks increased with age in unmanaged stands, but forest floor C decreased with age after the onset of thinning around age 40 in thinned stands. Deadwood C was highly variable, but decreased with age in thinned stands. Total ecosystem C increased with stand age until approaching an asymptote around age 150. The increase in total ecosystem C was paralleled by an age-related increase in total aboveground C, but relatively little change in total belowground C. Thinning had surprisingly little impact on total ecosystem C stocks, but it did modestly alter age-related trends in total ecosystem C allocation between aboveground and belowground pools. In addition to characterizing the subtle differences in C dynamics between thinned and unmanaged stands, these results suggest that C accrual in red pine stands continues well beyond the 60-100 year management rotations typical for this system. Management plans that incorporate longer rotations and thinning in some stands could play an important role in maximizing C stocks in red pine forests while meeting other objectives including timber extraction, biodiversity conservation, restoration, and fuel reduction goals.
Keywordscarbon dynamics; carbon storage; Chippewa National Forest; Minnesota; USA; forest management; Pinus resinosa; red pine; stand age; thinning
Powers, Matthew D.; Kolka, Randall K.; Bradford, John B.; Palik, Brian J.; Fraver, Shawn; Jurgensen, Martin F. 2012. Carbon stocks across a chronosequence of thinned and unmanaged red pine (Pinus resinosa) stands. Ecological Applications. 22(4): 1297-1307.