Nicole Lau | ALES Graduate Seminar

Date(s) - 01/12/2023
9:30 am - 10:30 am
442B Earth Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

Event details: A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.
This is an ALES MSc Final Exam Seminar by Nicole Lau. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.

Zoom Link:

MSc with Dr. Justine Karst

Thesis Topic: Beyond mountain pine beetle: soil carbon storage a decade after tree mortality and the possible influence of soil fungi


Mountain pine beetle disturbances in western Canada have resulted in extensive ectomycorrhizal (EM) tree mortality while leaving understories dominated by arbuscular (AM) mycorrhizal vegetation. Ectomycorrhizal and AM plants associate with different mycorrhizal fungal types that have distinct influences on key biogeochemical processes. To investigate how post-disturbance shifts in mycorrhizal group dominance affect soil carbon stores, I surveyed soils and forests across 80 lodgepole pine-dominated sites in west-central Alberta, split by disturbance severity (>70% beetle-kill versus intact). Despite the pronounced shift from EM to AM dominance, bulk soil carbon concentration did not differ between disturbed and intact stands. However, carbon in the mineral-stabilized fraction was relatively higher in the disturbed than intact. Shifts in mycorrhizal group dominance may have partially contributed to the changes in soil organic matter storage. These results suggest that soil carbon storage may be more resilient to extensive tree mortality than previously forecasted, underscoring the enduring value of these severely disturbed stands.

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