We measured respiratory fluxes of carbon dioxide by aboveground tree components and soil respiration with chambers in 2005 and scaled up these measurements over space and time to estimate annual ecosystem respiration (R(e)) at a mature black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) ecosystem in Quebec, Canada. We estimated periodic annual net primary production (NPP) for this ecosystem also. R(e) was estimated at 10.32 Mg C ha(-)(1) year(-)(1); heterotrophic respiration (R(h)) accounted for 52% of R(e) and autotrophic respiration (R(a)) accounted for the remainder. We estimated NPP at 3.02 Mg C ha(-1) year(-1), including production of bryophyte biomass but not including shrub NPP. We used these estimates of carbon fluxes to calculate a carbon use efficiency [CUE = NPP/(NPP + R(a))] of 0.38. This estimate of CUE is similar to those reported for other boreal forest ecosystems and it is lower than the value frequently used in global studies. Based on the estimate of R(h) being greater than the estimate of NPP, the ecosystem was determined to emit approximately 2.38 Mg C ha(-1) year(-1) to the atmosphere in 2005. Estimates of gross primary production (GPP = NPP + R(a)) and R(e) differed substantially from estimates of these fluxes derived from eddy covariance measurements during 2005 at this site. The ecological estimates of GPP and R(e) were substantially greater than those estimated for eddy covariance measurements. Applying a correction for lack of energy balance closure to eddy covariance estimates reduces differences with ecological estimates. We reviewed possible sources of systematic error in ecological estimates and discuss other possible explanations for these discrepancies.