Canadian Forest Service Publications

Does intensified boreal forest harvesting impact soil microbial community structure and function? 2017. Smenderovac, E.E. Webster, K.; Caspersen, J.; Morris, D.; Hazlett, P.; Basiliko, N. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 47(7):916-925.

Year: 2017

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 38830

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2016-0468

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Plain Language Summary

Intensified biomass harvesting in northern forests could potentially negatively impact soils. This study measured microbial community structure and function to assess the impacts of intensified biomass removal on soil from a managed northern jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) forest in Ontario, Canada. Four clear-cut harvesting removal intensities were compared with uncut controls and mature, fire-regenerated forest reference plots: stem-only removal, full-tree biomass removal, full-tree biomass with stump removal, and full-tree biomass with stump removal and soil blading that eliminated all aboveground and much belowground organic matter. A nearby recently burned forest site, representing common natural disturbance in the region, was also studied. Within the first two years after harvesting, there were significant differences in community structure and degradation of various C compounds among all harvested and unharvested sites, but little difference in communities across the different harvest intensities. Communities within the fire site were not comparable with those of harvested treatments, indicating that clear-cut logging may not initially produce an ecologically comparable disturbance with that of fire, although this conclusion is based on only one fire disturbance site. In the two years after harvesting, an important time for seedling establishment in managed forest systems, it appears that intensification of harvesting does not further disrupt microbial community structure and functioning beyond impacts from current harvest practices.