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ABSTRACT: Peatlands contain large amount of carbon stock that is vulnerable to release into the atmosphere. Mostly because of human impact, the peatlands at Zoige Wetlands face severe degradation, and the groundwater table is now lower than before, which has increased the population of the plateau zokor, a burrowing rodent. However, the impact of these changes on ecosystem carbon flows has not been studied. To investigate how the plateau zokor and the groundwater level alter the ecosystem respiration of the Zoige peatlands, we sampled the CO2 flux of hummocks shaped by the zokors and compared it with the CO2 flux of undisturbed sites with different groundwater table levels. The soil organic carbon (SOC), soil water content (SWC) and soil temperature at 5 cm (T5) were measured. SOC showed no significant difference among the four sampling sites and did not correlate with the CO2 flux, while SWC was found to partly determine the CO2 flux. A linear equation could adequately describe the relationship between the natural logarithm of the ecosystem respiration and the soil temperature. It is demonstrated that descending groundwater table might accelerate ecosystem respiration and the CO2 flux from hummocks was higher than the CO2 flux from the control site in the non-growing season. With rising temperature, the CO2 flux from the control site accelerated faster than that from the hummocks. Our results show that ecosystem respiration was significantly lower from hummocks than at the control site in the growing season. The results on the impact of zokors on greenhouse gas emissions presented in this paper provide a useful reference to help properly manage not only this, but other litter-burrowing mammals at peatland sites.PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e115542. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0115542
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ABSTRACT: Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forests are widely distributed throughout North America and are subject to mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) epidemics, which have caused mortality over millions of hectares of mature trees in recent decades. Mountain pine beetle is known to influence stand structure, and has the ability to impact many forest processes. Dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium americanum) also influences stand structure and occurs frequently in post-mountain pine beetle epidemic lodgepole pine forests. Few studies have incorporated both disturbances simultaneously although they co-occur frequently on the landscape. The aim of this study is to investigate the stand structure of lodgepole pine forests 21-28 years after a mountain pine beetle epidemic with varying levels of dwarf mistletoe infection in the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon. We compared stand density, stand basal area, canopy volume, proportion of the stand in dominant/codominant, intermediate, and suppressed cohorts, average height and average diameter of each cohort, across the range of dwarf mistletoe ratings to address differences in stand structure. We found strong evidence of a decrease in canopy volume, suppressed cohort height, and dominant/codominant cohort diameter with increasing stand-level dwarf mistletoe rating. There was strong evidence that as dwarf mistletoe rating increases, proportion of the stand in the dominant/codominant cohort decreases while proportion of the stand in the suppressed cohort increases. Structural differences associated with variable dwarf mistletoe severity create heterogeneity in this forest type and may have a significant influence on stand productivity and the resistance and resilience of these stands to future biotic and abiotic disturbances. Our findings show that it is imperative to incorporate dwarf mistletoe when studying stand productivity and ecosystem recovery processes in lodgepole pine forests because of its potential to influence stand structure.PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e107532. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0107532
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