Carbon Dynamics of Pinus palustris Ecosystems Following Drought


Drought can affect forest structure and function at various spatial and temporal scales. Forest response and recovery from drought may be a result of position within landscape. Longleaf pine forests in the United States have been observed to reduce their carbon sequestration capacity during drought. We collected eddy covariance data at the ends of an edaphic longleaf pine gradient (xeric and mesic sites) over seven years; two years of normal rainfall were followed by 2.5 years of drought, then 2.5 years of normal or slightly above-average rainfall. Drought played a significant role in reducing the physiological capacity of the sites and was compounded when prescribed fire occurred during the same periods. The mesic site has a 40% greater basal area then the xeric site, which accounts for its larger sequestration capacity; however, both sites show the same range of variance in fluxes over the course of the study. Following drought, both sites became carbon sinks. However, the xeric site had a longer carry-over effect and never returned to pre-drought function. Although this study encompassed seven years, we argue that longer studies with greater spatial variance must be undertaken to develop a more comprehensive understanding of forest response to changing climate.

longleaf pine, drought recovery, net ecosystem exchange (NEE), gross ecosystem exchange (GEE), ecosystem respiration (R-eco), carbon dynamics, orthonormal wavelet analysis, EDDY COVARIANCE, LONGLEAF PINE, CLIMATE-CHANGE, FOREST, LANDSCAPE, PRODUCTIVITY, BIODIVERSITY, GRADIENT, EXCHANGE, DIOXIDE, Forestry
Starr, G., et al. (2016): Carbon Dynamics of Pinus palustris Ecosystems Following Drought. Forests, 7(5). DOI: