Effects of Long-Term Density Management on Carbon Storage in Oak-Hickory Forests of the Missouri Ozarks


Samantha E. Anderson , Benjamin O. Knapp and John M. Kabrick

Graduate Research Assistant (SEA) and Assistant Professor (BOK), University of Missouri 203 Natural Resources Building, Columbia, MO 65211 and Research Forester (JMK), USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 202 Natural Resources Building, Columbia, MO 65211. SEA is corresponding author. To contact email sea9c2@mail.missouri.edu

Abstract – Forests sequester large amounts of atmospheric CO2 as aboveground biomass, with important implications for mitigating potential future climate change through the use of extended harvest rotations. It is well understood that density management affects tree size, standing volume, and stand development. However, few studies have assessed the long-term implications of repeated thinning on carbon sequestration in North America. We examined the effects of long term (> 50 yrs) density management on aboveground biomass and carbon storage in extended rotation oak-hickory forests in southeastern Missouri. In 1961, twenty half-acre plots were established in 40 year old stands and were thinned to basal areas of 30, 50, 70, or 90 ft²/ac. Basal areas were either maintained with repeated thinning or left to grow for 54 years. Each tree (≥ 0.6 inches dbh) was tagged and diameter measurements were repeatedly recorded throughout the duration of the study. Biomass and carbon storage at the individual tree and stand levels will be compared through time and across stand densities. We expect to find that differing stand densities will influence individual tree and stand capacity to store carbon as biomass. These results will illustrate the importance of long-term density management for maximizing individual tree size, total stand volume, and carbon storage while minimizing carbon loss through tree