Soil organic C as affected by silvicultural and exploitative interventions in Nothofagus pumilio forests of the Chilean Patagonia
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This study evaluates the effect of silvicultural and exploitative interventions on soil organic carbon (SOC) in Chilean Lenga (Nothofagus pumilio (Poepp et Endl.) Krasser) forests in south Patagonia. We analyzed SOC and the organic soil horizons in five stands at different stages of development: intact native forest (NI); a 3-year-old shelterwood stand (S3); an 8-year-old shelterwood stand (S8); a 14-year-old stand that was initially treated with shelterwood and subsequently final cut (10 years after the first intervention) (S14), and a 25-year-old stand subject to a exploitative intervention (E25). The SOC under the forest stands, down to a depth of 50 cm(including the Oi horizon), was 60, 55, 71, 85, and 67 Mg ha(-1) for the NI, S3, S8, S14, and E25 forest stands, respectively. A significant decrease in SOC occurred 3 years after an intensive shelterwood cut (S3), particularly in the first 5 cm of the mineral soil. Slightly higher carbon contents were observed in the upper horizons of the mineral soil in both the S8 and S14 stands. Consequently, the applied shelterwood system appears to generate only short-term losses of SOC in the Lenga forest. Soil organic carbon increased over the medium term but decreased to the level observed in intact native forests over the long term. Regeneration, which influences stand microclimate (a factor in SOC storage) and provides an important source of organic soil material, was identified as one of the most important factors influencing SOC.