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Why would you care about what happens to pieces of wood shoved into forest floors?

Because … Science! So says the USDA Northern Forest Research Station:

Soil organic matter is key to maintaining site productivity because of its role in water availability, nutrient supply, and disease incidence or prevention. Forest management practices and other land management activities can greatly affects organic matter decomposition, which could affect tree growth and site productivity. Consequently, organic matter decomposition is being used as an index of forest management effects (both positive and negative) in long-term soil productivity studies being conducted in various parts of North America and Canada. Projected climate change scenarios and changes in land use would also have a pronounced effect on soil organic matter decomposition rates.

Wood stakes were installed in all of the sites in 2012-2013, and each year wood stakes have been retrieved and analyzed for changes, creating information on decay rates over time at each site.  With existing site information, we will be able to model decay over time as a function of climate, soils, vegetation type, and the treatments at each site.

The whole report is here.

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