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Long-term tree-ring derived carbon dynamics of an experimental plantation in relation to species and density in Northwestern Ontario, Canada

Metsaranta, Juha M.
Forest ecology and management 2019 v.441 pp. 229-241
Picea glauca, Picea mariana, afforestation, agricultural land, biometry, carbon, carbon sinks, ecosystems, forests, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, growth rings, land use, models, net ecosystem production, plant density, plant litter, planting density, wood volume, Ontario
Afforestation can result in significant accumulations of carbon (C) in both soils and vegetation, which can make an important contribution to GHG emission mitigation. However, there remains a critical knowledge gap about ecosystem C stocks and fluxes at afforested sites, which is required in order to understand the effect of management choices like species selection and initial planting density. A hybrid biometric modelling approach was used to reconstruct ecosystem C stocks and fluxes at an experimental spacing trial consisting of three species (red pine, white spruce, and black spruce) planted at three densities, 63 years after it was established on former agricultural land in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Wood volume and increment were larger for closer spacing and for red pine relative to black or white spruce, and translated to analogous differences in estimates of ecosystem C dynamics. At young ages, net ecosystem production was largest at close spacing, but this difference attenuated over time and was similar in recent decades regardless of initial spacing. Estimated carbon stock and flux values were generally congruent with available estimates from independent studies at analogous sites, with the exception of litterfall which showed greater differences. Plots at the site were estimated to be C sinks on an annual basis immediately after establishment under the assumption that the site was previously under long-term agricultural land use, but anywhere from 10 to 20 years following establishment if the site was modelled as if it was a stand in the managed forest historically subject to natural disturbance regimes.