Recovery of carbon and nutrient pools in a northern forested wetland 11 years after harvesting and site preparation
We measured the change in above- and below-ground carbon and nutrient pools 11 years after the harvesting and site preparation of a histic-mineral soil wetland forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The original stand of black spruce (Picea mariana), jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) was whole-tree harvested, and three post-harvest treatments (disk trenching, bedding, and none) were randomly assigned to three Latin square blocks (n = 9). Nine control plots were also established in an adjoining uncut stand. Carbon and nutrients were measured in three strata of above-ground vegetation, woody debris, roots, forest floor, and mineral soil to a depth of 1.5 m. Eleven years following harvesting, soil C, N, Ca, Mg, and K pools were similar among the three site preparation treatments and the uncut stand. However, there were differences in ecosystem-level nutrient pools because of differences in live biomass. Coarse roots comprised approximately 30% of the tree biomass C in the regenerated stands and 18% in the uncut stand. Nutrient sequestration, in the vegetation since harvesting yielded an average net ecosystem gain of 332 kg N ha-1, 110 kg Ca ha-1, 18 kg Mg ha-1, and 65 kg K ha-1. The likely source for the cations and N is uptake from shallow groundwater, but N additions could also come from non-symbiotic N-fixation and N deposition. These are the only reported findings on long-term effects of harvesting and site preparation on a histic-mineral soil wetland and the results illustrate the importance of understanding the ecohydrology and nutrient dynamics of the wetland forest. This wetland type appears less sensitive to disturbance than upland sites, and is capable of sustained productivity under these silvicultural treatments.