Organic Matter Decomposition following Harvesting and Site Preparation of a Forested Wetland
Organic matter accumulation is an important process that affects ecosystem function in many northern wetlands. The cotton strip assay (CSA)was used to measure the effect of harvesting and two different site preparation treatments, bedding and trenching, on organic matter decomposition in a forested wetland. A Latin square experimental design was used to determine the effect of harvesting, site preparation, and relative position within the wetland on organic matter decomposition at soil depths of 5, 10, and 20 cm. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to test for treatment effects on organic matter decomposition, soil temperature, and soil oxidation depth. Cellulose decomposition increased at each soil depth as site disturbance increased, with bedding > trenching > whole-tree harvest > reference. The cellulose decomposition response was correlated with changes in soil temperature; the temperaturecoefficientQlo equaled 6.0, which is greater than previously reported values. Position withinthewetland relative to an adjoining river affected the decomposition and soil oxidation depth. Because the rate of decomposition is strongly controlled by temperature, higher rates of organic matter decay are expected to continue on harvested and regenerated sites until canopy closure reduces soil temperature.
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