Aspen Bibliography

Productivity and nutrient cycling in taiga forest ecosystems

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Canadian Journal of Forest Research





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This paper considers the productivity and nutrient cycling in examples of the major forest types in interior Alaska. These ecosystem properties are examined from the standpoint of the control exerted over them by soil temperature and forest-floor chemistry. We conclude that black spruce Piceamariana (Mill.) B.S.P. occupies the coldest, wettest sites which support tree growth in interior Alaska. Average seasonal heat sums (1132 ± 32 degree days (DD)) for all other forest types were significantly higher than those encountered for black spruce (640 ± 40 DD). In addition, black spruce ecosystems display the highest average seasonal forest-floor and mineral-soil moisture contents. Forest-floor chemistry interacts with soil temperature in black spruce to produce the most decay-resistant organic matter. In black spruce the material is characterized by the highest lignin content and widest C/N (44) and C/P (404) ratios. Across the range of forest types examined in this study, soil temperature is strongly related to net annual aboveground tree production and the annual tree requirement for N, P, K, Ca, and Mg. Forest floor C/N and C/P ratios are strongly related to annual tree N and P requirement and the C/N ratio to annual tree production. In all cases these controls act to produce, in black spruce, the smallest accumulation of tree biomass, standing crop of elements, annual production, and element requirement in aboveground tree components.