Biomass accumulation in trees and downed wood in northern hardwood forests: Repeated measures of a successional chronosequence in New Hampshire, USA

Academic Article


  • Successional, second-growth forests dominate much of eastern North America; thus, patterns of biomass accumulation in standing trees and downed wood are of great interest for forest management and carbon accounting. The timing and magnitude of biomass accumulation in later stages of forest development are not fully understood. We applied a “chronosequence with resampling” approach to characterize live and dead biomass accumulation in 16 northern hardwood stands in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Live aboveground biomass increased rapidly and leveled off at about 350 Mg/ha by 145 years. Downed wood biomass fluctuated between 10 and 35 Mg/ha depending on disturbances. The species composition of downed wood varied predictably with overstory succession, and total mass of downed wood increased with stand age and the concomitant production of larger material. Fine woody debris peaked at 30–50 years during the self-thinning of early successional species, notably pin cherry. Our data support a model of northern hardwood forest development wherein live tree biomass accumulates asymptotically and begins to level off at ∼140–150 years. Still, 145-year-old second-growth stands differed from old-growth forests in their live ( p = 0.09) and downed tree diameter distributions ( p = 0.06). These patterns of forest biomass accumulation would be difficult to detect without a time series of repeated measurements of stands of different ages.
  • Authors

  • Nash, Joseph M
  • Vadeboncoeur, Matthew
  • McGee, Gregory G
  • Woodall, Christopher W
  • Yanai, Ruth D
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • April 1, 2024
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 431
  • End Page

  • 446
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 4