Woody debris in three North American old-growth eastern deciduous forests: Implications for carbon storage
Old-growth forests store large amounts of carbon and may accumulate carbon indefinitely. Due to the scarcity of eastern old-growth deciduous forests in North America, we have too little data on the potential carbon storage of these forests. In particular, the amount of carbon stored in woody debris and soil in these forests is scarce. We measured 35 to 40, 10x10 m plots for woody debris volume and mass in each of three old-growth stands in southeastern Ohio (Dysart Woods), northern West Virginia (Parkinson Forest), and northwestern Pennsylvania (Heart’s Content).
Woody debris volume and mass were relatively high compared to similar old-growth forests ranging from a low of 136 m3/ha and 39 Mg/ha, respectively, in Dysart Woods to 557 m3/ha and 143 Mg/ha in Heart’s Content. The high mass value for Heart’s Content is due to a recent wave of mortality of large, ancient Pinus strobus trees, suggesting a possible route for enhancing carbon storage in eastern deciduous forests.