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Effect of clear-cutting silviculture on soil respiration in a subtropical forest of China
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Journal of Plant Ecology
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Aims Clear-cutting is a common forest management practice, especially in subtropical China. However, the potential ecological consequences of clear-cutting remain unclear. In particular, the effect of clear-cutting on soil processes, such as the carbon cycle, has not been quantified in subtropical forests. Here, we investigated the response of soil respiration to clear-cutting during a twelve-month period in a subtropical forest in eastern China. Methods We randomly selected four clear-cut plots (CC) and four corresponding undisturbed forest plots (UF). Measurements of soil respiration (Rs) were made at monthly time points and were combined with continuous climatic measure ments in both CC and UF. Daily Rs was estimated by interpolating data with an exponential model dependent on soil temperature. Daily Rs was cumulated to annual Rs estimates. Important findings In the first year after clear-cutting, annual estimates of Rs in CC (508 ± 23 g C m-2yr-1) showed no significant difference to UF plots (480 ± 12 g C m-2yr-1). During the summer, soil temperatures were usually higher, whereas the soil volumetric water content (SVWC) was lower in CC than in UF plots. The long-term effects of clear cutting on Rs are not significant, although there might be effects during the first several months after clear-cutting. Compared with previous work, this pattern was more pronounced in our subtropical forest than in the temperate and boreal forests that have been studied by others. With aboveground residuals off-site after clear-cutting, our results indicate that the stimulation of increasing root debris, as well as environmental changes, will not lead to a significant increase in Rs. In addition, long-term Rs will not show a significant decrease from the termination of root respiration, and this observation might be because of the influence of fast growing vegetation after clear-cutting in situ.
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