Canadian Forest Service Publications

The contribution of litterfall to net primary production during secondary succession in the boreal forest. Chen, H.Y.H.; Brant, A.; Seedre, M.; Brassard, B.; Taylor, A.R. 2017. Ecosystems 20: 830-844.

Year: 2016

Available from: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39175

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/s10021-016-0063-2

† This site may require a fee.

Abstract

Litterfall is a fundamental process in the nutrient cycle of forest ecosystems and a major component of annual net primary production (NPP). Despite its importance for understanding ecosystem energetics and carbon accounting, the dynamics of litterfall production following disturbance and throughout succession remain poorly understood in boreal forest ecosystems. Using a replicated chronosequence spanning 209 years following fire and 33 years following logging in Ontario, Canada, we examined the dynamics of litterfall production associated with stand development, overstory composition type (broadleaf, mixedwood, and conifer), and disturbance origin. We found that total annual litterfall production increased with stand age following fire and logging, plateauing in post-fire stands approximately 98 years after fire. Neither total annual litterfall production nor any of its constituents differed between young fire- or logging-originated stands. Litterfall production was generally higher in broadleaf stands compared with mixedwood and conifer stands, but varied seasonally, with foliar litterfall highest in broadleaf stands in autumn, and epiphytic lichen litterfall highest in conifer stands in spring. Contrary to previous assumptions, we found that the contribution of litterfall production to net primary production increased with stand age, highlighting the need for modeling studies of net primary productivity to account for the effects of stand age on litterfall dynamics.

Plain Language Summary

Litterfall is an important process in the nutrient cycle of forest ecosystems, yet the dynamics of litterfall production following disturbance and throughout succession remain poorly understood in the boreal forest. Using a replicated chronosequence spanning 209 years following fire and logging in Ontario, Canada, we examined the dynamics of litterfall production. We found that total annual litterfall production increased with stand age following fire and logging, plateauing approximately 98 years after fire. Total annual litterfall production did not differ between fire- or logging-originated stands. Litterfall production was generally higher in broadleaf stands compared with mixedwood and conifer stands, but varied seasonally. Contrary to previous assumptions, we found that the contribution of litterfall production to net primary production increased with stand age, highlighting its importance for modeling studies of forest carbon dynamics.

Date modified: