Soil carbon fluxes and stocks in a Great Lakes forest chronosequence

Jianwu Tang, Paul V. Bolstad, Jonathan G. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


We measured soil respiration and soil carbon stocks, as well as micrometeorological variables in a chronosequence of deciduous forests in Wisconsin and Michigan. The chronosequence consisted of (1) four recently disturbed stands, including a clearcut and repeatedly burned stand (burn), a blowdown and partial salvage stand (blowdown), a clearcut with sparse residual overstory (residual), and a regenerated stand from a complete clearcut (regenerated); (2) four young aspen (Populus tremuloides) stands in average age of 10 years; (3) four intermediate aspen stands in average age of 26 years; (4) four mature northern hardwood stands in average age of 73 years; and (5) an old-growth stand approximately 350-years old. We fitted site-based models and used continuous measurements of soil temperature to estimate cumulative soil respiration for the growing season of 2005 (days 133-295). Cumulative soil respiration in the growing season was estimated to be 513, 680, 747, 747, 794, 802, 690, and 571 g Cm-2 in the burn, blowdown, residual, regenerated, young, intermediate, mature, and old-growth stands, respectively. The measured apparent temperature sensitivity of soil respiration was the highest in the regenerated stand, and declined from the young stands to the old-growth. Both, cumulative soil respiration and basal soil respiration at 10°C, increased during stand establishment, peaked at intermediate age, and then decreased with age. Total soil carbon at 0-60 cm initially decreased after harvest, and increased after stands established. The old-growth stand accumulated carbon in deep layers of soils, but not in the surface soils. Our study suggests a complexity of long-term soil carbon dynamics, both in vertical depth and temporal scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • CO flux
  • Chronosequence
  • Old-growth
  • Soil carbon
  • Soil respiration
  • Succession


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