Dynamics of Postfire Aboveground Carbon in a Chronosequence of Chinese Boreal Larch Forests

Yuan Z. Yang, Wen H. Cai, Jian Yang, Megan White, John M. Lhotka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Boreal forests store a large proportion of the global terrestrial carbon (C), while wildfire plays a crucial role in determining their C storage and dynamics. The aboveground C (AC) pool is an important component of forest C stocks. To quantify the turning point (transforming from C source to C sink) and recovery time of postfire AC, and assess how stand density affects the AC, 175 plots from eight stand age classes were surveyed as a chronosequence in the Great Xing'an Mountains of Northeast China. Linear and nonlinear regression analyses were conducted to describe postfire AC recovery patterns. The results showed that (1) postfire AC exhibited a skewed U-shaped pattern with the turning point at approximately year 30, when the change rate of AC shifted from negative to positive, (2) it took more than 120 years for this forest ecosystem to recover 80% of AC in unburned old-growth (200 years) stands, and (3) there was an overall positive relationship between AC and stand density over the entire range of stand age classes; and such relationship was stronger during the early- and late-successional stages, but weaker (p > 0.05) during the midsuccessional stage. Although boreal larch forests have been C sinks under historical fire free intervals, predicted increases in fire frequency could potentially shift it to a C source. Understanding postfire AC dynamics in boreal larch forests is central to predicting C cycling response to wildfire and provides a framework for assessing ecosystem resilience to disturbance in this region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3490-3506
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • aboveground carbon
  • boreal larch forests
  • carbon dynamics
  • ecosystem resilience
  • postfire
  • stand density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Forestry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Paleontology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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