Canadian Forest Service Publications

Post-harvest nitrogen cycling in clearcut and alternative silvicultural systems in a montane forest in coastal British Columbia. 2006. Titus, B.D.; Prescott, C.E.; Maynard, D.G.; Mitchell, A.K.; Bradley, R.L.; Feller, M.C.; Beese, W.J.; Seely, B.; Benton, R.A.; Senyk, J.P.; Hawkins, B.J.; Koppenaal, R.S. The Forestry Chronicle 62(6): 844-859.

Year: 2006

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26653

Language: English

Abstract

The MASS (Montane Alternative Silvicultural Systems) trial was established in the coastal mountains of British Columbia to compare clearcut, patch cut, green tree and shelterwood systems. A number of studies were carried out at the MASS trial to determine the extent to which these variable levels of stand retention retained old-growth attributes of N cycling and associated ecological processes. Harvesting led to increases in N mineralization in the forest floor (2X) and mineral soil (10X), and fluxes of N through the upper 25 cm of mineral soil (2X to 3X). However, fluxes of N were not large (< 0.35 kg ha-1 per growing season). Nitrogen mineralized was predominantly ammonium and not nitrate in the forest floor (> 95% in all but clearcut, > 75% in clearcut) and upper mineral soil horizon (42-86%). The nitrate component came from heterotrophic decomposition of organic matter, not conversion of ammonium to nitrate by autotrophs, and nitrate increases resulted from decreased gross nitrate consumption with harvesting, rather than increased nitrate production. The increases in soil N availability resulting from harvesting were reflected in only slight increases in seedling foliar N concentrations for two to four years after logging (peak of 2% for western hemlock and 1.6% for amabilis fir) before decreasing to below deficiency thresholds for both species. Overall, estimated losses of N from the rooting zone after harvesting (1 kg ha-1 yr-1) were minimal in comparison to estimated N inputs (4 kg ha-1 yr-1), N exports in logs at harvesting (250 kg ha-1) and soil reserves (11 400 kg ha-1). Although unlikely to affect future site productivity, losses of N could be reduced somewhat through the use of shelterwood harvesting.