Effects of multiple interacting disturbances and salvage logging on forest carbon stocks
Climate change is anticipated to increase the frequency of disturbances, potentially impacting carbon stocks in terrestrial ecosystems. However, little is known about the implications of either multiple disturbances or post-disturbance forest management activities on ecosystem carbon stocks. This study quantified how forest carbon stocks responded to stand-replacing blowdown and wildfire, both individually and in combination with and without post-disturbance salvage operations, in a sub-boreal jack pine ecosystem. Individually, blowdown or fire caused similar decreases in live carbon and total ecosystem carbon. However, whereas blowdown increased carbon in down woody material and forest floor, fire increased carbon in standing snags, a difference that may have consequences for long-term carbon cycling patterns. Fire after the blowdown caused substantial additional reduction in ecosystem carbon stocks, suggesting that potential increases in multiple disturbance events may represent a challenge for sustaining ecosystem carbon stocks. Salvage logging, as examined here, decreased carbon stored in snags and down woody material but had no significant effect on total ecosystem carbon stocks.