Relationships between net primary productivity and stand age for several forest types and their influence on China’s carbon balance
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Affected by natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as forest fires, insect-induced mortality and harvesting, forest stand age plays an important role in determining the distribution of carbon pools and fluxes in a variety of forest ecosystems. An improved understanding of the relationship between net primary productivity (NPP) and stand age (i.e., age-related increase and decline in forest productivity) is essential for the simulation and prediction of the global carbon cycle at annual, decadal, centurial, or even longer temporal scales. In this paper, we developed functions describing the relationship between national mean NPP and stand age using stand age information derived from forest inventory data and NPP simulated by the BEPS (Boreal Ecosystem Productivity Simulator) model in 2001. Due to differences in ecobiophysical characteristics of different forest types, NPP-age equations were developed for five typical forest ecosystems in China (deciduous needleleaf forest (DNF), evergreen needleleaf forest in tropic and subtropical zones (ENF-S), deciduous broadleaf forest (DBF), evergreen broadleaf forest (EBF), and mixed broadleaf forest (MBF)). For DNF, ENF-S, EBF, and MBF, changes in NPP with age were well fitted with a common non-linear function, with R(2) values equal to 0.90, 0.75, 0.66, and 0.67, respectively. In contrast, a second order polynomial was best suitable for simulating the change of NPP for DBF, with an R(2) value of 0.79. The timing and magnitude of the maximum NPP varied with forest types. DNF, EBF, and MBF reached the peak NPP at the age of 54, 40, and 32 years, respectively, while the NPP of ENF-S maximizes at the age of 13 years. The highest NPP of DBF appeared at 122 years. NPP was generally lower in older stands with the exception of DBF, and this particular finding runs counter to the paradigm of age-related decline in forest growth. Evaluation based on measurements of NPP and stand age at the plot-level demonstrates the reliability and applicability of the fitted NPP-age relationships. These relationships were used to replace the normalized NPP-age relationship used in the original InTEC (Integrated Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon) model, to improve the accuracy of estimated carbon balance for China's forest ecosystems. With the revised NPP-age relationship, the InTEC model simulated a larger carbon source from 1950-1980 and a larger carbon sink from 1985-2001 for China's forests than the original InTEC model did because of the modification to the age-related carbon dynamics in forests. This finding confirms the importance of considering the dynamics of NPP related to forest age in estimating regional and global terrestrial carbon budgets.
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