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Moth Outbreaks Reduce Decomposition in Subarctic Forest Soils
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2020 (English)In: Ecosystems (New York. Print), ISSN 1432-9840, E-ISSN 1435-0629, Vol. 23, no 1, p. 151-163Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Tree mortality from insect infestations can significantly reduce carbon storage in forest soils. In subarctic birch forests (Betula pubescens), ecosystem C cycling is largely affected by recurrent outbreaks of defoliating geometrid moths (Epirrita autumnata, Operophtera brumata). Here, we show that soil C stocks in birch forests across Fennoscandia did not change up to 8 years after moth outbreaks. We found that a decrease in woody fine roots was accompanied by a lower soil CO2 efflux rate and a higher soil N availability following moth outbreaks. We suggest that a high N availability and less ectomycorrhiza likely contributed to lowered heterotrophic respiration and soil enzymatic activity. Based on proxies for decomposition (heterotrophic respiration, phenol oxidase potential activity), we conclude that a decrease in decomposition is a prime cause why soil C stocks of mountain birch forest ecosystems have not changed after moth outbreaks. Compared to disturbed temperate and boreal forests, a CO2-related positive feedback of forest disturbance on climate change might therefore be smaller in subarctic regions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 23, no 1, p. 151-163
Keywords [en]
Betula pubescens, disturbed subarctic forests, Epirrita autumnata, heterotrophic soil respiration, Operophtera brumata, root biomass, soil carbon sequestration, soil CO2 efflux, soil enzyme activity, structural equation modelling
National Category
Biological Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:polar:diva-8354DOI: 10.1007/s10021-019-00394-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:polar-8354DiVA, id: diva2:1395673
Available from: 2020-02-24 Created: 2020-02-24 Last updated: 2020-02-24Bibliographically approved

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