Smith, 2013


Aboverground Carbon Distribution across a temperate watershed.

Smith, Lauren A. (2013)
Master of Science, Ecology, The Pennsylvania State University, p. 72  


Aboveground net primary productivity varies across topographic position (which affects microclimate and plant species distribution) and in a watershed could be inaccurately quantified if data are limited by inadequate sampling of topographic position. My objective was to create a spatially explicit aboveground C budget in a small forested temperate watershed using C stored in trees and leaf litter C flux. The average ANPP at the watershed was 550 gC m-2 yr-1; however, interpolated maps suggest that the ANPP could vary from 223 to 3410 gC m-2 yr-1 across the watershed. The hypothesis was that the spatial variability in aboveground C could be explained by tree genera and topographic characteristics such as aspect, elevation, and slope angle. Trees on the south aspect stored more average gC m-2 yr-1 than trees on the north, and more average gC m-2 was stored in aboveground biomass on planar surfaces than plots located in swales. Leaf litter C flux (gC m-2 yr-1) was not correlated with any topographical feature due to the immense variation of litter contribution across the watershed. In addition, the common method of using elevated litter traps to predict C donated to the soil from leaf litter at the trap location was assessed by comparing collected leaf litter C of the elevated litter traps to C accumulated in litter in surrounding floor plots. The elevated traps collected 40 percent more litter than the forest floor; overestimating C donated to the soil. Future studies should incorporate spatially explicit C budgets and consider using floor plots in addition to elevated litter traps to determine accurate C distribution.


Smith, Lauren A. (2013): Aboverground Carbon Distribution across a temperate watershed. Master of Science, Ecology, The Pennsylvania State University, p. 72.

This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.

Associated Files

Smith, 2013
(2 MB pdf)