Title

Spatiotemporal dynamics of coarse woody debris in a topographically complex, old-growth, deciduous forest

Date of Award

2014

Degree Name

M.S. in Biology

Department

Department of Biology

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Ryan W. McEwan

Abstract

Forest ecosystems are an important sink in the global carbon cycle. Coarse woody debris (CWD, tree remains greater than or equal to 20cm in diameter), which makes up 20% of the aboveground forest biomass, can be an important indicator of historical forest disturbance events and is an important variable for establishing carbon storage baselines. Eighty plots (0.04 ha) located in old-growth temperate deciduous forest within Lilley Cornett Woods Ecological Research Station (LCW), southeastern KY, USA, were used to assess spatial and temporal dynamics in CWD. These plots were sampled for CWD three times (1989, 1999, and 2012) using identical methods and all samples were identified to species, assigned to a decomposition class, and measured in length and width to estimate volume and sample biomass. We found an increasing trend in CWD biomass that was both evenly-distributed across species and exhibited a distinct spatial pattern. The increasing deposition and spatial relationship were explained by recent disturbance events, as well as environmental variables. Because less than 1% of northeastern forests are old growth and climate change alters forest carbon balance, this study satisfies a current need for ongoing documentation of old-growth forests.

Keywords

Coarse woody debris Environmental aspects Kentucky Surveys, Ecological surveys Kentucky, Old growth forests Kentucky Surveys, Ecology, Forestry, Biology, Environmental Science, Geographic Information Science, Carbon sequestration, Lilley Cornett Woods, Coarse woody debris, GIS

Rights Statement

Copyright 2014, author

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