Carbon storage and soil properties in late-successional and second-growth subalpine forests in the North Cascade Range, Washington
Sanscrainte, Carolyn L.
Peterson, David L.
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We compared soil carbon (C) and soil chemical characteristics between late-successional subalpine forests and adjacent regenerating clearcuts (20-40 yr post harvest) that received different logging residue treatments (burned vs. unburned) at four sites in the North Cascade Range of Washington. Carbon storage in the O horizon and mineral soil, C concentration, and soil chemical properties in the mineral soil and spodic horizons were compared between forests and clearcuts, and between burned and unburned clearcuts. Mean carbon storage was 131.3 Mg ha-1 in clearcuts and 95.4 Mg ha-1 in forests. Mean C concentration was 55.3 g kg-1 in unburned clearcuts and 45.1 g kg-1 in burned clearcuts. Several soil chemical properties were correlated with C concentrations, although causation of patterns was difficult to infer. Calcium (Ca) concentration was significantly higher in mineral soils of clearcuts than in uncut forests, with unburned clearcuts having the highest Ca concentration. This is a potentially important change in chemical cycling, because subalpine soils have low cation content. Clearcut logging may affect post-harvest soil C storage and other soil properties on a temporary basis, but with the exception of Ca, no long-term effects were apparent at these sites. Post-harvest burning appeared to have a minimal effect 20-40 yr following logging