Canadian Forest Service Publications

Dead wood is buried and preserved in a Labrador boreal forest. 2010. Moroni, M.T.; Hagemann, U.; Beilman, D.W. Ecosystems 13: 452-458.

Year: 2010

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 31731

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)

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Large amounts (36.4 Mg ha-1 or 179 m3 ha-1) of buried dead wood were found in overmature (146-204-year-old) black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) forests in the high boreal region of eastern Canada. Amounts of this size indicate that burial reduces rates of wood decay producing an important component of long-term carbon (C) storage. Radiocarbon-derived ages of black spruce stems buried near the bottom of the organic soil horizon at three old-growth sites were up to 515 years old. Together with information on current stand age, this suggests that the stems have been dead for more than 250 years. Most aboveground dead wood decays or becomes fragmented within about 70 years of tree death in these forests. The presence of old yet well-preserved buried wood suggests that decay rates are greatly reduced when downed dead wood is quickly overgrown by moss. Thus, the nature and type of ground-layer vegetation influences the accumulation of organic matter in these forests. This process of dead wood burial and the resultant addition to a large and long-enduring belowground C pool should be considered when estimating dead wood abundance for habitat or forest C accounting and cycling.