Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Decomposition rates of surface and buried forest-floor material

Prescott, Cindy E.; Reid, Anya; Wu, Shu Yao; Nilsson, Marie-Charlotte


Mechanical site preparation is assumed to reduce soil C stocks by increasing the rate at which the displaced organic material decomposes, but the evidence is equivocal. We measured rates of C loss of forest-floor material in mesh bags either placed on the surface or buried in the mineral soil at four sites in different regional climates in British Columbia. During the 3-year incubation, buried forest-floor material lost between 5% and 15% more C mass than material on the surface, with the greatest difference occurring at the site with the lowest annual precipitation. Studies of the long-term fate of buried and surface humus are needed to understand the net effects of site preparation on soil C stocks.


humus; decomposition; soil; carbon; site preparation

Published in

Canadian Journal of Forest Research
2017, volume: 47, number: 8, pages: 1140-1144

Authors' information

Prescott, Cindy E.
University of British Columbia
Reid, Anya
University of British Columbia
Wu, Shuyao
University of British Columbia
Wu, Shuyao
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)