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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. Across the globe, the forest carbon sink is increasingly vulnerable to an expanding array of low- to moderate-severity disturbances. However, some forest ecosystems exhibit functional resistance (i.e., the capacity of ecosystems to continue functioning as usual) following disturbances such as extreme weather events and insect or fungal pathogen outbreaks. Unlike severe disturbances (e.g., stand-replacing wildfires), moderate severity disturbances do not always result in near-term declines in forest production because of the potential for compensatory growth, including enhanced subcanopy production. Community-wide shifts in subcanopy plant functional traits, prompted by disturbance-driven environmental change, may play a key mechanistic role in resisting declines in net primary production (NPP) up to thresholds of canopy loss. However, the temporal dynamics of these shifts, as well as the upper limits of disturbance for which subcanopy production can compensate, remain poorly characterized. In this study, we leverage a 4-year dataset from an experimental forest disturbance in northern Michigan to assess subcanopy community trait shifts as well as their utility in predicting ecosystem NPP resistance across a wide range of implemented disturbance severities. Through mechanical girdling of stems, we achieved a gradient of severity from 0% (i.e., control) to 45, 65, and 85% targeted gross canopy defoliation, replicated across four landscape ecosystems broadly representative of the Upper Great Lakes ecoregion. We found that three of four examined subcanopy community weighted mean (CWM) traits including leaf photosynthetic rate ( p = 0.04), stomatal conductance ( p = 0.07), and the red edge normalized difference vegetation index ( p < 0.0001) shifted rapidly following disturbance but before widespread changes in subcanopy light environment triggered by canopy tree mortality. Surprisingly, stimulated subcanopy production fully compensated for upper canopy losses across our gradient of experimental severities, achieving complete resistance (i.e., no significant interannual differences from control) of whole ecosystem NPP even in the 85% disturbance treatment. Additionally, we identified a probable mechanistic switch from nutrient-driven to light-driven trait shifts as disturbance progressed. Our findings suggest that remotely sensed traits such as the red edge normalized difference vegetation index (reNDVI) could be particularly sensitive and robust predictors of production response to disturbance, even across compositionally diverse forests. The potential of leaf spectral indices to predict post-disturbance functional resistance is promising given the capabilities of airborne to satellite remote sensing. We conclude that dynamic functional trait shifts following disturbance can be used to predict production response across a wide range of disturbance severities. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 20, 2024
  4. Abstract The terrestrial carbon cycle is a major source of uncertainty in climate projections. Its dominant fluxes, gross primary productivity (GPP), and respiration (in particular soil respiration, R S ), are typically estimated from independent satellite-driven models and upscaled in situ measurements, respectively. We combine carbon-cycle flux estimates and partitioning coefficients to show that historical estimates of global GPP and R S are irreconcilable. When we estimate GPP based on R S measurements and some assumptions about R S :GPP ratios, we found the resulted global GPP values (bootstrap mean $${149}_{-23}^{+29}$$ 149 − 23 + 29 Pg C yr −1 ) are significantly higher than most GPP estimates reported in the literature ( $${113}_{-18}^{+18}$$ 113 − 18 + 18 Pg C yr −1 ). Similarly, historical GPP estimates imply a soil respiration flux (Rs GPP , bootstrap mean of $${68}_{-8}^{+10}$$ 68 − 8 + 10 Pg C yr −1 ) statistically inconsistent with most published R S values ( $${87}_{-8}^{+9}$$ 87 − 8 + 9 Pg C yr −1 ), although recent, higher, GPP estimates are narrowing this gap. Furthermore, global R S :GPP ratios are inconsistent with spatial averages of this ratio calculated from individual sites as well as CMIP6 model results. This discrepancy has implications for our understanding of carbon turnover times and the terrestrial sensitivity to climate change. Future efforts should reconcile the discrepancies associated with calculations for GPP and Rs to improve estimates of the global carbon budget. 
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  5. The capacity of forests to resist structural change and retain material legacies–the biotic and abiotic resources that persist through disturbance–is crucial to sustaining ecosystem function after disturbance. However, the role of forest structure as both a material legacy and feature supporting carbon (C) cycling stability following disturbance has not been widely investigated. We used a large-scale disturbance manipulation to ask whether legacies of lidar-derived canopy structures drive 3-year primary production responses to disturbance. As part of the Forest Resilience Threshold Experiment (FoRTE) in northern Michigan, USA we simulated phloem-disrupting disturbances producing a range of severities and affecting canopy trees of different sizes. We quantified the legacies of forest structure using two approaches: one measuring the change in structure and primary production from pre-to post-disturbance and the second estimating resistance as log transformed ratios of control and treatment values. We found that total aboveground wood net primary production (ANPP w ) was similar across disturbance severities as legacy trees rapidly increased rates of primary production. Experiment-wide, the disturbance had limited effects on change in mean structural complexity values; however, high variance underscored large differences in the magnitude and direction of complexity's response at the plot-scale. Plot-scale structural complexity, but not vegetation area index (VAI), resistance strongly predicted ANPP w resistance while temporal VAI and structural complexity changes did not. We conclude that the presence of material legacies in the form of forest structure may affect primary production stability following disturbance and that how legacies are quantified may affect the interpretation of disturbance response. 
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  6. Abstract

    Soil microbes ultimately drive the mineralization of soil organic carbon and thus ecosystem functions. We compiled a dataset of the seasonality of microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and developed a semi-mechanistic model to map monthly MBC across the globe. MBC exhibits an equatorially symmetric seasonality between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere, MBC peaks in autumn and is minimal in spring at low latitudes (<25°N), peaks in the spring and is minimal in autumn at mid-latitudes (25°N to 50°N), while peaks in autumn and is minimal in spring at high latitudes (>50°N). This latitudinal shift of MBC seasonality is attributed to an interaction of soil temperature, soil moisture, and substrate availability. The MBC seasonality is inconsistent with patterns of heterotrophic respiration, indicating that MBC as a proxy for microbial activity is inappropriate at this resolution. This study highlights the need to explicitly represent microbial physiology in microbial models. The interactive controls of environments and substrate on microbial seasonality provide insights for better representing microbial mechanisms in simulating ecosystem functions at the seasonal scale.

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