Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Time since death and decay rate constants of Norway spruce and European larch deadwood in subalpine forests determined using dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating


Petrillo, Marta; Cherubini, Paolo; Fravolini, Giulia; Marchetti, Marco; Ascher-Jenull, Judith; Schärer, Michael; Synal, Hans-Arno; Bertoldi, Daniela; Camin, Federica; Larcher, Roberto; Egli, Markus (2016). Time since death and decay rate constants of Norway spruce and European larch deadwood in subalpine forests determined using dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating. Biogeosciences, 13(5):1537-1552.

Abstract

Due to the large size (e.g. sections of tree trunks) and highly heterogeneous spatial distribution of deadwood, the timescales involved in the coarse woody debris (CWD) decay of Picea abies (L.) Karst. and Larix decidua Mill. in Alpine forests are largely unknown. We investigated the CWD decay dynamics in an Alpine valley in Italy using the chronosequence approach and the five-decay class system that is based on a macromorphological assessment. For the decay classes 1–3, most of the dendrochronological samples were cross-dated to assess the time that had elapsed since tree death, but for decay classes 4 and 5 (poorly preserved tree rings) radiocarbon dating was used. In addition, density, cellulose, and lignin data were measured for the dated CWD. The decay rate constants for spruce and larch were estimated on the basis of the density loss using a single negative exponential model, a regression approach, and the stage-based matrix model. In the decay classes 1–3, the ages of the CWD were similar and varied between 1 and 54 years for spruce and 3 and 40 years for larch, with no significant differences between the classes; classes 1–3 are therefore not indicative of deadwood age. This seems to be due to a time lag between the death of a standing tree and its contact with the soil. We found distinct tree-species-specific differences in decay classes 4 and 5, with larch CWD reaching an average age of 210 years in class 5 and spruce only 77 years. The mean CWD rate constants were estimated to be in the range 0.018 to 0.022 y⁻¹ for spruce and to about 0.012 y⁻¹ for larch. Snapshot sampling (chronosequences) may overestimate the age and mean residence time of CWD. No sampling bias was, however, detectable using the stage-based matrix model. Cellulose and lignin time trends could be derived on the basis of the ages of the CWD. The half-lives for cellulose were 21 years for spruce and 50 years for larch. The half-life of lignin is considerably higher and may be more than 100 years in larch CWD. Consequently, the decay of Picea abies and Larix decidua is very low. Several uncertainties, however, remain: ¹⁴C dating of CWD from decay classes 4 and 5 and having a pre-bomb age is often difficult (large age range due to methodological constraints) and fall rates of both European larch and Norway spruce are missing.

Abstract

Due to the large size (e.g. sections of tree trunks) and highly heterogeneous spatial distribution of deadwood, the timescales involved in the coarse woody debris (CWD) decay of Picea abies (L.) Karst. and Larix decidua Mill. in Alpine forests are largely unknown. We investigated the CWD decay dynamics in an Alpine valley in Italy using the chronosequence approach and the five-decay class system that is based on a macromorphological assessment. For the decay classes 1–3, most of the dendrochronological samples were cross-dated to assess the time that had elapsed since tree death, but for decay classes 4 and 5 (poorly preserved tree rings) radiocarbon dating was used. In addition, density, cellulose, and lignin data were measured for the dated CWD. The decay rate constants for spruce and larch were estimated on the basis of the density loss using a single negative exponential model, a regression approach, and the stage-based matrix model. In the decay classes 1–3, the ages of the CWD were similar and varied between 1 and 54 years for spruce and 3 and 40 years for larch, with no significant differences between the classes; classes 1–3 are therefore not indicative of deadwood age. This seems to be due to a time lag between the death of a standing tree and its contact with the soil. We found distinct tree-species-specific differences in decay classes 4 and 5, with larch CWD reaching an average age of 210 years in class 5 and spruce only 77 years. The mean CWD rate constants were estimated to be in the range 0.018 to 0.022 y⁻¹ for spruce and to about 0.012 y⁻¹ for larch. Snapshot sampling (chronosequences) may overestimate the age and mean residence time of CWD. No sampling bias was, however, detectable using the stage-based matrix model. Cellulose and lignin time trends could be derived on the basis of the ages of the CWD. The half-lives for cellulose were 21 years for spruce and 50 years for larch. The half-life of lignin is considerably higher and may be more than 100 years in larch CWD. Consequently, the decay of Picea abies and Larix decidua is very low. Several uncertainties, however, remain: ¹⁴C dating of CWD from decay classes 4 and 5 and having a pre-bomb age is often difficult (large age range due to methodological constraints) and fall rates of both European larch and Norway spruce are missing.

Statistics

Citations

5 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

21 downloads since deposited on 14 Feb 2017
21 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:14 Feb 2017 08:33
Last Modified:15 Feb 2017 04:10
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1726-4170
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-1537-2016
Related URLs:http://www.zora.uzh.ch/120425/

Download

Preview Icon on Download
Preview
Content: Published Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF
Size: 6MB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)
Preview Icon on Download
Preview
Content: Accepted Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF
Size: 12MB
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)