Controls On Carbon Dynamics By Ecosystem Structure And Climate For Southeastern U.S. Slash Pine Plantations

  • Sites: US-SP2
  • Bracho, R., Starr, G., Gholz, H. L., Martin, T. A., Cropper, W. P., Loescher, H. W. (2012/02) Controls On Carbon Dynamics By Ecosystem Structure And Climate For Southeastern U.S. Slash Pine Plantations, Ecological Monographs, 82(1), 101-128.
  • Funding Agency: —

  • Abstract. Planted pine forests (plantations) in the southeastern United States are an
    important component of the continent’s carbon balance. Forest carbon dynamics are affected
    by a range of factors including climatic variability. Multiyear droughts have affected the
    region in the past, and an increase in the frequency of drought events has been predicted. How
    this increased climatic variability will affect the capacity of the region’s pine plantations to
    sequester carbon is not known. We used eddy covariance and biometric approaches to
    measure carbon dynamics over nine years in two slash pine plantations (Pinus elliottii var
    elliottii Englm) in north Florida, consisting of a newly planted and a mid-rotation stand.
    During this time, the region experienced two multiyear droughts (1999–2002 and 2006–2008),
    separated by a three-year wet period. Net ecosystem carbon accumulation measured using
    both approaches showed the same trends and magnitudes during plantation development. The
    newly planted site released 15.6 Mg C/ha during the first three years after planting, before
    becoming a carbon sink in year 4. Increases in carbon uptake during the early stages of stand
    development were driven by the aggrading leaf area index (LAI). After canopy closure, both
    sites were continuous carbon sinks with net carbon uptake (NEE) fluctuating between 4 and
    ;8Mg Cha1yr1, depending on environmental conditions. Drought reduced NEE by ;25%
    through its negative effects on both LAI and radiation-use efficiency, which resulted in a larger
    impact on gross ecosystem carbon exchange than on ecosystem respiration. While results
    indicate that responses to drought involved complex interactions among water availability,
    LAI, and radiation-use efficiency, these ecosystems remain carbon sinks under current
    management strategies and climatic variability. Variation within locations is primarily due to
    major disturbances, such as logging in the current study and, to a much lesser extent, local
    environmental fluctuations. When data from this study are compared to flux data from a
    broad range of forests worldwide, these ecosystems fill a data gap in the warm-temperate zone
    and support a broad maximum NEE (for closed-canopy forests) between 88C and 208C mean
    annual temperature.