Recovery of carbon pools a decade after wildfire in black spruce forests of interior Alaska: effects of soil texture and landscape position

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


We measured organic-layer (OL) recovery and carbon stocks in dead woody debris a decade after wildfire in black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) forests of interior Alaska. Previous study at these research plots has shown the strong role that landscape position plays in governing the proportion of OL consumed during fire and revegetation after fire. Here, we show that landscape position likely influences fire dynamics in these stands through changes in mineral soil texture. The content of fine-textured materials in underlying mineral soils was positively related to OL depths measured 1 and 10 years after fire, and there was an interaction between soil texture and elevation in governing OL consumption and OL recovery a decade following fire. OL depths 10 years after fire were 2 cm greater than 1 year after fire, with a range of 19 cm of accumulation to 9 cm of subsidence. Subsidence was inversely related to the percentage of fine textures within the parent material. The most influential factor determining the accumulation of OL carbon stocks a decade following wildfire was the interaction between landscape position and the presence of fine-textured soil. As such, parent material texture interacted with biological processes to govern the recovery of soil organic layers.

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© 2017. Copyright remains with the author(s) or their institution(s). Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2017-0236

Publication Title

Canadian Journal of Forest Research