Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Winter 12-16-2021


Mixed-conifer forests play an important role in the Southwestern USA’s regional carbon cycle by sequestering and storing large amounts of atmospheric carbon onto the landscape. Despite this, little is known about how large, stand-replacing fire alters ecosystem carbon sink-source dynamics. In this study, we used eddy covariance to quantify how stand-replacing fire altered forest sink strength, and the sensitivity of carbon uptake to soil and atmospheric drought in a mixed-conifer forest located in The Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM. We found that the post-burn ecosystem returned to an annual net sink of carbon in the year immediately following the fire, but with a 76% reduction in sink strength and reduced sink stability during seasonal drought. Together, these findings indicate that burn patches resulting from stand-replacing fire in what were previously mixed-conifer forests, will have a drastically reduced capacity to store and sequester carbon, conferring serious consequences for the region’s current and future carbon cycle.


Mixed-conifer, wildfire, carbon, eddy covariance

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Marcy Litvak

Second Committee Member

Tomer Duman

Third Committee Member

Matthew Hurteau

certificate-final-elect_schulze_signed by litvak.pdf (196 kB)
Certificate of final form

Included in

Biology Commons