Disturbances such as storm events and bark beetle outbreaks can have a major influence on forest soil carbon (C) cycling. Both autotrophic and heterotrophic soil respiration may be affected by the increase in tree mortality. We studied the effect of a storm in 2010 followed by an outbreak of the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus
L.) on the soil surface respiration (respiration by soil and ground vegetation) at two Norway spruce (Picea abies
L.) dominated sites in southeastern Finland. Soil surface respiration, soil temperature, and soil moisture were measured in three types of plots—living trees (undisturbed), storm-felled trees, and standing dead trees killed by I. typographus
—during the summer–autumn period for three years (2015–2017). Measurements at storm-felled tree plots were separated into dead tree detritus-covered (under storm-felled trees) and open-vegetated (on open areas) microsites. The soil surface total respiration for 2017 was separated into its autotrophic and heterotrophic components using trenching. The soil surface total respiration rates at the disturbed plots were 64%–82% of those at the living tree plots at one site and were due to a decrease in autotrophic respiration, but there was no clear difference in soil surface total respiration between the plots at the other site, due to shifts in either autotrophic or heterotrophic respiration. The soil surface respiration rates were related to plot basal area (living and all trees), as well as to soil temperature and soil moisture. As storm and bark beetle disturbances are predicted to become more common in the future, their effects on forest ecosystem C cycling and CO2
fluxes will therefore become increasingly important.
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