Modeling effects of hydrological changes on the carbon and nitrogen balance of oak in floodplains.

Tree physiology

PubMedID: 12839727

Pietsch SA, Hasenauer H, Kucera J, Cermák J. Modeling effects of hydrological changes on the carbon and nitrogen balance of oak in floodplains. Tree Physiol. 2003;23(11):735-46.
We extended the applicability of the ecosystem model BIOME-BGC to floodplain ecosystems to study effects of hydrological changes on Quercus robur L. stands. The extended model assesses floodplain peculiarities, i.e., seasonal flooding and water infiltration from the groundwater table. Our interest was the tradeoff between (a). maintaining regional applicability with respect to available model input information, (b). incorporating the necessary mechanistic detail and (c). keeping the computational effort at an acceptable level. An evaluation based on observed transpiration, timber volume, soil carbon and soil nitrogen content showed that the extended model produced unbiased results. We also investigated the impact of hydrological changes on our oak stands as a result of the completion of an artificial canal network in 1971, which has stopped regular springtime flooding. A comparison of the 11 years before versus the 11 years after 1971 demonstrated that the hydrological changes affected mainly the annual variation across years in leaf area index (LAI) and soil carbon and nitrogen sequestration, leading to stagnation of carbon and nitrogen stocks, but to an increase in the variance across years. However, carbon sequestration to timber was unaffected and exhibited no significant change in cross-year variation. Finally, we investigated how drawdown of the water table, a general problem in the region, affects modeled ecosystem behavior. We found a further amplification of cross-year LAI fluctuations, but the variance in soil carbon and nitrogen stocks decreased. Volume increment was unaffected, suggesting a stabilization of the ecosystem two decades after implementation of water management measures.