Canadian Forest Service Publications

Post-fire forest floor development along toposequences of white spruce-trembling aspen mixedwood communities in west-central Alberta. 2002. Little, T.I.; Pluth, D.J.; Corns, I.G.W.; Gilmore, D.W. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32(5): 892-902.

Year: 2002

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 20667

Language: English

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After wildfire in the boreal forest, storage of organic carbon (C) begins with the accumulation of forest floor material. Soil properties of Gray Luvisols were studied to determine the differences in development along three toposequences. Our central hypothesis is that slope position does not influence the amount of accumulated organic C and total nitrogen (N) in the forest floor. Organic C and the C/N ratio in the forest floor and in A and B horizons increased from the crest to the toe of the slope. The forest floor contributed 2.0 ± 0.4 kg C·m–2 (mean ± SE) at the crest to 3.5 ± 0.5 kg C·m–2 at the toe. Throughout the solum, the C/N ratio was lower at the top of the slope compared with the toe (p < 0.05), and there were no differences among slope positions for in situ net N mineralization rates. Leaf area index, used as a proxy for net primary productivity, was greater (p < 0.05) at the toe compared with the crest position, and it was negatively correlated with forest floor total N concentration (r=–0.35, p=0.027). These results, from mixedwood stands approximately 90 years after the last major fire disturbance, indicate that slope position does influence forest floor organic C by horizon volume (p=0.02), but not total N concentration (p=0.07). Despite the apparently lower N availability at the toe position, it exhibited the greatest potential productivity.