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Effects of forest fragmentation on organic carbon pool densities in the Mongolian forest-steppe

Dulamsuren, Choimaa, Klinge, Michael, Bat-Enerel, Banzragch, Ariunbaatar, Tumurbaatar, Tuya, Daramragchaa
Forest ecology and management 2019 v.433 pp. 780-788
Larix sibirica, biomass, boreal forests, carbon sinks, drought, ecosystems, forest regeneration, forest stands, forest steppe, habitat fragmentation, humus, latitude, microclimate, mineral soils, organic carbon, permafrost, stemwood, stocking rate, trees, water storage, Mongolia
The hypothesis was tested that the size and the degree of isolation of Larix sibirica forests in the forest-steppe ecotone of Mongolia affects aboveground and belowground carbon pool densities. The research question was based on the fact that both microclimate and the drought sensitivity of stemwood production were earlier shown to differ with stand size and isolation in this ecotone. Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find significant differences in the organic carbon stock densities of the tree biomass and the mineral soil. The depth, carbon content and carbon stock density of the organic layer increased with stand size, but was not a major determinant of total ecosystem carbon stock density. Nevertheless, the increasing depth and the increasing humus content of the organic layer with stand size could be significant by improving moisture availability and, thus, promoting forest regeneration. Furthermore, reduced organic layer thickness and humus content and thus water storage capacity could be one out of several causes of the previously observed higher drought vulnerability of stemwood formation in small forest stands of the Mongolian forest-steppe. A mean carbon stock density of 237 Mg C ha−1 for total ecosystem organic carbon stock density matches with earlier estimates for Mongolia’s boreal forest corroborating the view that the ecosystem carbon pool density at the southern edge of the boreal forest is lower compared to forests at higher latitudes with even colder climate and deeper and more widespread permafrost.