Gross and aboveground net primary production at Canadian forest carbon flux sites Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Simultaneous biometric measurements of aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and eddy-covariance measurements of gross primary production (GPP) were made at 18 forest stands with 80 site-years of data across Canada – to assess the fraction of photosynthesis that is used to produce plant tissues and the consistency of carbon allocation patterns across forest ecosystems. The stands included boreal and temperate forests and spanned very young to mature stand ages. Across all sites, ANPP averaged 298±138gCm−2yr−1 (mean±1 s.d.), with the highest values for temperate white pine plantations (307–630gCm−2yr−1) and harvested Douglas-fir stands (219–459gCm−2yr−1), and the lowest values for boreal harvested jack pine stands (97–185gCm−2yr−1). ANPP more than doubled from newly established (≤12 years) to young (13–25 years) stands, then stabilized in young to mature (≥51 years) stands but with diverging trends among species. Inter-site variations in ANPP and GPP were closely related to site characteristics, in particular, to leaf area index, which explained 66% of the variation in ANPP and 80% of the variation in GPP, and absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, which explained 80% of the variation in ANPP and 82% of the variation in GPP. Both ANPP and GPP were also positively correlated with mean annual air temperature, mean annual precipitation, and total soil nitrogen in the upper 10cm of the mineral soil. ANPP was strongly, positively correlated with GPP and the ANPP/GPP ratio was relatively constant (0.29±0.06), with no consistent differences among species or age classes. The results support the use of a constant ANPP/GPP ratio as a reasonable assumption in models of forest productivity for boreal and northern temperate forests. A similar conclusion is reached for the NPP/GPP ratio when published values of belowground NPP are considered.


  • Zha, TS
  • Barr, AG
  • Bernier, P-Y
  • Lavigne, MB
  • Trofymow, JA
  • Amiro, BD
  • Arain, Muhammad Altaf
  • Bhatti, JS
  • Black, TA
  • Margolis, HA
  • McCaughey, JH
  • Xing, ZS
  • Van Rees, KCJ
  • Coursolle, C

publication date

  • June 2013