Résumé - CAFD

Drivers of postfire soil organic carbon accumulation in the boreal forest.

Benjamin Andrieux, Julien Beguin, Yves Bergeron, Pierre Grondin, David Paré.

The accumulation of soil carbon (C) is regulated by a complex interplay between abiotic and biotic factors. Our study aimed to identify the main drivers of soil C accumulation in the boreal forest of eastern North America. Ecosystem C pools were measured in 72 sites of fire origin that burned 2–314 years ago over a vast region with a range of ? mean annual temperature of 3°C and one of ? 500 mm total precipitation. We used a set of multivariate a priori causal hypotheses to test the influence of time since fire (TSF), climate, soil physico?chemistry and bryophyte dominance on forest soil organic C accumulation. Integrating the direct and indirect effects among abiotic and biotic variables explained as much as 50% of the full model variability. The main direct drivers of soil C stocks were: TSF >bryophyte dominance of the FH layer and metal oxide content >pH of the mineral soil. Only climate parameters related to water availability contributed significantly to explaining soil C stock variation. Importantly, climate was found to affect FH layer and mineral soil C stocks indirectly through its effects on bryophyte dominance and organo?metal complexation, respectively. Soil texture had no influence on soil C stocks. Soil C stocks increased both in the FH layer and mineral soil with TSF and this effect was linked to a decrease in pH with TSF in mineral soil. TSF thus appears to be an important factor of soil development and of C sequestration in mineral soil through its influence on soil chemistry. Overall, this work highlights that integrating the complex interplay between the main drivers of soil C stocks into mechanistic models of C dynamics could improve our ability to assess C stocks and better anticipate the response of the boreal forest to global change.