Kobziar Fire Science Lab
School of Forest Resources and Conservation

Prescribed Fire Management and Soil Carbon Respiration Rates in Southeastern Forests

    David Godwin, PhD Student

    Tall Timbers Research Station, Austin Cary Memorial Forest, Osceola National Forest, Florida

The understanding of soil carbon dynamics in forested systems has increased
in importance as global climate change discussions recognize the key roles forest soils play in global carbon cycles (IPCC 1995).  The majority of carbon sequestered in most forested systems lies within the soils, with soil carbon respiration comprising a significant portion of total ecosystem carbon budgets (Raich and Schlesinger 1992).

As the southern United States has over 200 million acres of forested land (USFS/FIA 2006) there exists potential for future forest landowner compensation for carbon sequestration services (“Cap and Trade” programs).  Given this potential revenue stream for both public and private forest owners, it is important to understand the effects of various land management methods on soil carbon pools and fluxes.  One method for assessing how management affects soil carbon is the measurement of soil carbon respiration rates.  A variety of forest management activities, including prescribed fire, have been shown to significantly influence soil carbon respiration rates in Western United States, yet these relationships are not well known in southern forests.  Prescribed fire is one of the most prevalent forest management tools employed in the Southern United States and mechanical fuels mastication treatments are becoming more and more common in the region.  This study seeks to understand the influence of prescribed fire management regimes and mechanical fuels mastication  on soil carbon respiration rates in natural forests in North and North Central Florida, USA.

Related Media, Presentations, and Papers

YouTube Video of soil carbon respiration sampling at Tall Timbers Research Station. January 2012. By David Godwin.

Godwin, D.R., Kobziar, L.N. and Robertson, K. 2010 “Prescribed fire management and soil carbon respiration in an old field forest” School of Forest Resources and Conservation Spring Symposium. (Godwin_D_SFRC_Poster.pdf)

Godwin, D.R. 2010. “Influence of prescribed fire regimes on soil carbon respiration in southern forests” Presentation given at 4th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress: Fire as a Global Process. (Seminar_2010_Power_Point.pdf)

Godwin, D.R. and Kobziar, L.N. 2011. “Soil carbon efflux response to prolonged prescribed fire management in the Red HIlls. Association for Fire Ecology Interior West Fire Ecology Conference. (AFE_Snowbird_Poster copy.pdf)

Godwin D.R. and Kobziar L.N. 2011 “Effect of Prescribed Fire and Mechanical Fuel Treatments on Soil Carbon Respiration in Pine Flatwoods” University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation Symposium. D-Godwin-SFRC-Poster copy.pdf

Godwin, D.R. and Kobziar, L.N. Conserved Forest Ecosystems Outreach and Research (CFEOR) Osceola National Forest Field Workshop (2011 - Lake City, FL) Oral Presentation and Field Discussion “Preliminary Soil Carbon Efflux Results”.  See appropriate section in workshop handout.

Photo gallery from field work at Tall Timbers Research Station. By David Godwin