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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 61 No. 4, p. 1264-1274
    Received: June 20, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): lockaby@forestry.auburn.edu
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Woody Debris Decomposition in the Atchafalaya River Basin of Louisiana following Hurricane Disturbance

  1. Michael D. Rice,
  2. B. G. Lockaby ,
  3. J. A. Stanturf and
  4. B. D. Keeland
  1. School of Forestry, 108 M.W. Smith Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, 36849
    USDA Forest Service, Stoneville, MS, 38776
    National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA, 70506



The contribution of woody debris to some biogeochemical functions of forested wetlands was examined in the Atchafalaya River Basin in Louisiana following disturbance by Hurricane Andrew. Woody debris decomposition processes were characterized in terms of mass, C, N, and P dynamics. These were compared between different diameters of debris, areas recieving different intensities of disturbance, and between different positions relative to the soil. Disturbance intensity (as defined by canopy closure) had little effect on decomposition processes when compared with soil orientation (i.e., whether in contact with or suspended above the soil). Rates of mass loss varied between 0.055 and 0.068 for suspended and ground-contact coarse woody debris, respectively. Fine woody debris rate coefficients averaged 0.060 and 0.085 for the same respective orientations. In general, woody debris displayed strong source activity for P but a greater tendency toward sink behavior for N. In terms of biogeochemical transformations, these data suggest that woody debris might act as a phosphate source during sheet flow events but could provide short-term retention of inorganic N associated with floodwaters.

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