A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Carbon concentrations and carbon pool distributions in dry, moist, and cold mid-aged forests of the Rocky Mountains

Author(s): Theresa B. Jain, Russell T. Graham, David Adams
Year Published: 2010

Although 'carbon' management may not be a primary objective in forest management, influencing the distribution, composition, growth, and development of biomass to fulfill multiple objectives is; therefore, given a changing climate, managing carbon could influence future management decisions. Also, typically, the conversion from total biomass to total carbon is 50 percent; however, we believe this value is not consistent across all forest components. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to: acknowledge the appropriate carbon concentrations and distribution of carbon pools and provide improved estimates of carbon content in four habitat types with different climatic regimes-(dry (Arizona), cold (Montana), and moist (Idaho)-of the Rocky Mountains, USA. We quantified biomass, carbon concentrations, and carbon amounts for trees, soils, woody debris, and coarse and fine roots. We found that in most cases our carbon concentrations were less than the typical conversion of 50 percent. Thus we recommend the following conversions from biomass to carbon: trees should be 49 percent for overstory crown, 48 percent for boles, 48 percent for understory trees, and 47 percent for coarse roots; for understory plants concentrations should be 47 percent for shrubs and 41 percent for forbs and grasses; woody residue should be 48 percent for solid logs, 49 percent for rotten logs, 48 percent for brown cubical rotten wood, and 44 percent for buried wood; cones should be 48 percent in ponderosa pine forests and 46 percent in cold and moist forests; sticks in ponderosa pine forests should be 49 percent and in the moist and cold climate regimes sticks should be 47 percent. Unique carbon pools often overlooked include cones, woody debris, and buried wood. Given these results, additional research questions could be pursued, such as the effect of successional stage on carbon pool distributions, or as forests grow and develop, if carbon concentrations change or if only biomass distribution changes over time.

Citation: Jain, Theresa B.; Graham, Russell T.; Adams, David. 2010. Carbon concentrations and carbon pool distributions in dry, moist, and cold mid-aged forests of the Rocky Mountains. In: Jain, Theresa B.; Graham, Russell T.; Sandquist, Jonathan, eds. Integrated management of carbon sequestration and biomass utilization opportunities in a changing climate, proceedings of the 2009 National Silviculture Workshop; 2009 June 15-18; Boise, ID. Proceedings RMRS-P-61. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 39-59.
Topic(s): Fire & Climate, Carbon Sequestration
Ecosystem(s): Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 8416
FRAMES RCS number: 11358
Record updated: May 24, 2018