Topographic and climatic controls on soil environments and net primary production in a rugged temperate hardwood forest in Korea

Sinkyu Kang, Dowon Lee, Jangho Lee, Steven W. Running

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22 Scopus citations


Eight years (1994-2001) of field data and a biogeochemical process model, BIOME-BGC, were used to examine effects of local topography and inter-annual climatic variability on soil physical (i.e., soil moisture and temperature) and biogeochemical (i.e., organic matter content, soil respiration, and leaf litter production) variables in a temperate hardwood forest in Korea. The field data were collected from adjacent south-facing (S) and north-facing (N) slopes, respectively, to examine effects of local topography, and were utilized to validate predictability according to BIOME-BGC which was applied to model unmeasured hydro-ecological processes [i.e., evapotranspiration, net primary production (NPP), and net ecosystem exchange of carbon]. Our field-data analyses indicated that soil-related variables including soil temperature, water content, organic matter, soil respiration, and floor leaf litter store significantly differed between the S and N slopes, while leaf litter production did not differ as significantly as the soil-related variables. The BIOME-BGC predictions showed good agreement with the mean field data aggregated across the slopes. Our simulation results and field observations indicated that the inter-annual variations of leaf litter production and maximum leaf area index were best explained by precipitation, both at a 1-year lag, while variation in annual NPP was well correlated with precipitation without a temporal lag. Our results imply that: (1) local topography needs to be explicitly considered in ecosystem studies as a forcing function generating spatial heterogeneity in soil physical and biogeochemical variables within a rugged landscape, and (2) water limits vegetation productivity in our study forest, in spite of a relatively high annual precipitation rate (1,579 mm year-1).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Climate variability
  • Primary production
  • Temperate hardwood forest
  • Topography


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