Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle revealed by study

Date:
August 12, 2014
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Drier conditions at the edges of forest patches slow down the decay of dead wood and significantly alter the cycling of carbon and nutrients in woodland ecosystems, according to a new study. It has long been known that so-called ‘edge effects’ influence temperature and moisture (the ‘microclimate’) in woodlands, but the influence on the carbon cycle is largely unknown.

Drier conditions at the edges of forest patches slow down the decay of dead wood and significantly alter the cycling of carbon and nutrients in woodland ecosystems, according to a new study.

Forests around the world have become increasingly fragmented, and in the UK three quarters of woodland area lie within 100 metres of the forest edge. It has long been known that so-called 'edge effects' influence temperature and moisture (the 'microclimate') in woodlands, but the influence on the carbon cycle is largely unknown.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Earthwatch in the UK combined experiments with mathematical modelling to fill this knowledge gap. Wood blocks were placed in Wytham Woods near Oxford at various distances from the forest edge, and left to decay over two years. The measured decay rates were applied to a model of the surrounding landscape, to allow comparison between the current fragmented woodland cover and decay rates in continuous forest.

The research, published today in the journal Global Change Biology, shows that wood decay rates in the southern UK are reduced by around one quarter due to fragmentation. This effect is much larger than expected due to variation in temperatures and rainfall among years.

Dr Dan Bebber of the University of Exeter said: "We were surprised by the strength of the edge effect on wood decay, which we believe was driven by reduced moisture at the forest edge impairing the activity of saprotrophic fungi -- those that live and feed on dead organic matter."

Wood decay, and the recycling of other biological matter like leaf litter, is driven by fungi and other microbes that are sensitive to temperature and moisture. The difference between the absorption of carbon dioxide via photosynthesis by trees, and the release of carbon by microbes, determines the overall carbon balance of the forest.

Dr Martha Crockatt of Earthwatch said: "Saprotrophic fungi control the cycling of carbon and nutrients from wood in forests, and their responses to changes in microclimate driven by fragmentation, and also climate change, will influence whether forests are a carbon source or sink."

The southern UK has a temperate climate with moderate temperatures and rainfall. Similar studies in different parts of the world, from the warm tropics to the cooler boreal regions, are needed to understand how edge effects on decomposition vary globally.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Martha E. Crockatt, Daniel P. Bebber. Edge effects on moisture reduce wood decomposition rate in a temperate forest. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12676

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle revealed by study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812122409.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2014, August 12). Effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle revealed by study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812122409.htm
University of Exeter. "Effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle revealed by study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812122409.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) The Ozone layer is recovering thickness! Hooray! But in helping its recovery, we may have also helped put more greenhouse gases out there. Hooray? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins