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Simulated biomass and soil carbon of loblolly pine and cottonwood plantations across a thermal gradient in southeastern United States

Forest Ecology and Management
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2007.08.008
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Growing-Degree-Days
  • Nitrogen Fertilization
  • Soil Organic Matter


Abstract Changes in biomass and soil carbon with nitrogen fertilization were simulated for a 25-year loblolly pine ( Pinus taeda) plantation and for three consecutive 7-year short-rotation cottonwood ( Populus deltoides) stands. Simulations were conducted for 17 locations in the southeastern United States with mean annual temperatures ranging from 13.1 to 19.4 °C. The LINKAGES stand growth model, modified to include the “RothC” soil C and soil N model, simulated tree growth and soil C status. Nitrogen fertilization significantly increased cumulative cottonwood aboveground biomass in the three rotations from a site average of 106 to 272 Mg/ha in 21 years. The equivalent site averages for loblolly pine showed a significant increase from 176 and 184 Mg/ha in 25 years with fertilization. Location results, compared on the annual sum of daily mean air temperatures above 5.5 °C (growing-degree-days), showed contrasts. Loblolly pine biomass increased whereas cottonwood decreased with increasing growing-degree-days, particularly in cottonwood stands receiving N fertilization. The increment of biomass due to N addition per unit of control biomass (relative response) declined in both plantations with increase in growing-degree-days. Average soil C in loblolly pine stands increased from 24.3 to 40.4 Mg/ha in 25 years and in cottonwood soil C decreased from 14.7 to 13.7 Mg/ha after three 7-year rotations. Soil C did not decrease with increasing growing-degree-days in either plantation type suggesting that global warming may not initially affect soil C. Nitrogen fertilizer increased soil C slightly in cottonwood plantations and had no significant effect on the soil C of loblolly stands.

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