Tree carbon (C) uptake (net primary productivity excluding fine root turnover, NPP') in a New Zealand Pinus radiata D. Don plantation (42 degrees 52' S, 172 degrees 45' E) growing in a region subject to summer soil water deficit was investigated jointly with canopy assimilation (A(c)) and ecosystem-atmosphere C exchange rate (net ecosystem productivity, NEP). Net primary productivity was derived from biweekly stem diameter growth measurements using allometric relations, established after selective tree harvesting, and a litterfall model. Estimates of A(c) and NEP were used to drive a biochemically based and environmentally constrained model validated by seasonal eddy covariance measurements. Over three years with variable rainfall, NPP' varied between 8.8 and 10.6 Mg C ha(-1) year(-1), whereas A(c) and NEP were 16.9 to 18.4 Mg C ha(-1) year(-1) and 5.0-7.2 Mg C ha(-1) year(-1), respectively. At the end of the growing season, C was mostly allocated to wood, with nearly half (47%) to stems and 27% to coarse roots. On an annual basis, the ratio of NEP to stand stem volume growth rate was 0.24 +/- 0.02 Mg C m(-3). The conservative nature of this ratio suggests that annual NEP can be estimated from forest yield tables. On a biweekly basis, NPP' repeatedly lagged A(c), suggesting the occurrence of intermediate C storage. Seasonal NPP'/A(c) thus varied between nearly zero and one. On an annual basis, however, NPP'/A(c) was 0.54 +/- 0.03, indicating a conservative allocation of C to autotrophic respiration. In the water-limited environment, variation in C sequestration rate was largely accounted for by a parameter integrative for changes in soil water content. The combination of mensurational data with canopy and ecosystem C fluxes yielded an estimate of heterotrophic respiration (NPP' - NEP) approximately 30% of NPP' and approximately 50% of NEP. The estimation of fine-root turnover rate is discussed.
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