Abstracts on Global Climate Change

Apr 2006

Above- and belowground net primary production in a temperate mixed deciduous forest

Newman, GS Arthur, MA Muller, RN

ECOSYSTEMS 9:3 317-329

Our current ability to detect and predict changes in forest ecosystem productivity is constrained by several limitations. These include a poor understanding of belowground productivity, the short duration of most analyses, and a need for greater examination of species- or community-specific variability in productivity studies. We quantified aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) over 3 years (1999-2001), and both belowground NPP (BNPP) and total NPP over 2 years (2000-2001) in both mesic and xeric site community types of the mixed mesophytic forest of southeastern Kentucky to examine landscape variability in productivity and its relation with soil resource [water and nitrogen (N)] availability. Across sites, ANPP was significantly correlated with N availability (R-2 = 0.58, P = 0.028) while BNPP was best predicted by soil moisture content (R-2 = 0.72, P = 0.008). Because of these offsetting patterns, total NPP was unrelated to either soil resource. Interannual variability in growing season precipitation during the study resulted in a 50% decline in mesic site litter production, possibly due to a lag effect following a moderate drought year in 1999. As a result, ANPP in mesic sites declined 27% in 2000 compared to 1999, while xeric sites had no aboveground production differences related to precipitation variability. If global climate change produces more frequent occurrences of drought, then the response of mesic sites to prolonged moisture deficiency and the consequences of shifting carbon (C) allocation on C storage will become important questions.

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