Climatic and edaphic controls over tropical forest diversity and vegetation carbon storage.
ABSTRACT: Tropical rainforests harbor exceptionally high biodiversity and store large amounts of carbon in vegetation biomass. However, regional variation in plant species richness and vegetation carbon stock can be substantial, and may be related to the heterogeneity of topoedaphic properties. Therefore, aboveground vegetation carbon storage typically differs between geographic forest regions in association with the locally dominant plant functional group. A better understanding of the underlying factors controlling tropical forest diversity and vegetation carbon storage could be critical for predicting tropical carbon sink strength in response to projected climate change. Based on regionally replicated 1-ha forest inventory plots established in a region of high geomorphological heterogeneity we investigated how climatic and edaphic factors affect tropical forest diversity and vegetation carbon storage. Plant species richness (of all living stems >10?cm in diameter) ranged from 69 to 127?ha-1 and vegetation carbon storage ranged from 114 to 200 t ha-1. While plant species richness was controlled by climate and soil water availability, vegetation carbon storage was strongly related to wood density and soil phosphorus availability. Results suggest that local heterogeneity in resource availability and plant functional composition should be considered to improve projections of tropical forest ecosystem functioning under future scenarios.
Project description:Tropical forests are rich in biodiversity with great potential for carbon (C) storage. We estimated ecosystem-level C stock using data from 70 forest plots in three major forest types: tropical dry deciduous (TDD I and TDD II), tropical semi-evergreen (TSE I and TSE II) and tropical evergreen forests (TEF I, TEF II and TEF III) of Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India. The average C stock in these forests was 336.8 Mg C/ha, of which 231.3, 3.0, 2.4, 15.2 and 84.9 Mg C/ha were stored in woody vegetation, understorey, litter, deadwood and soil respectively. The live vegetation, detritus and soil contributed 65.5%, 5.5% and 29% respectively to the total ecosystem-level C stock and distributed in forest types in the order: TEF III?>?TEF II?>?TEF I?>?TSE I?>?TDD II?>?TSE II?>?TDD I. The plant diversity, structural attributes and environmental factors showed significant positive correlations with C stocks and accounted for 6.7, 77.2 and 16% of variance. These findings indicate that the tropical forests in the Western Ghats store large amount of C, and resulting data are invaluable for planning and monitoring forest conservation and management programs to enhance C storage in tropical forests.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The carbon stored in vegetation varies across tropical landscapes due to a complex mix of climatic and edaphic variables, as well as direct human interventions such as deforestation and forest degradation. Mapping and monitoring this variation is essential if policy developments such as REDD+?(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) are to be known to have succeeded or failed.<h4>Results</h4>We produce a map of carbon storage across the watershed of the Tanzanian Eastern Arc Mountains (33.9 million ha) using 1,611 forest inventory plots, and correlations with associated climate, soil and disturbance data. As expected, tropical forest stores more carbon per hectare (182 Mg C ha(-1)) than woody savanna (51 Mg C ha(-1)). However, woody savanna is the largest aggregate carbon store, with 0.49 Pg C over 9.6 million ha. We estimate the whole landscape stores 1.3 Pg C, significantly higher than most previous estimates for the region. The 95% Confidence Interval for this method (0.9 to 3.2 Pg C) is larger than simpler look-up table methods (1.5 to 1.6 Pg C), suggesting simpler methods may underestimate uncertainty. Using a small number of inventory plots with two censuses (n?=?43) to assess changes in carbon storage, and applying the same mapping procedures, we found that carbon storage in the tree-dominated ecosystems has decreased, though not significantly, at a mean rate of 1.47 Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1) (c. 2% of the stocks of carbon per year).<h4>Conclusions</h4>The most influential variables on carbon storage in the region are anthropogenic, particularly historical logging, as noted by the largest coefficient of explanatory variable on the response variable. Of the non-anthropogenic factors, a negative correlation with air temperature and a positive correlation with water availability dominate, having smaller p-values than historical logging but also smaller influence. High carbon storage is typically found far from the commercial capital, in locations with a low monthly temperature range, without a strong dry season, and in areas that have not suffered from historical logging. The results imply that policy interventions could retain carbon stored in vegetation and likely successfully slow or reverse carbon emissions.
Project description:Managing ecosystems for carbon storage may also benefit biodiversity conservation, but such a potential 'win-win' scenario has not yet been assessed for tropical agroforestry landscapes. We measured above- and below-ground carbon stocks as well as the species richness of four groups of plants and eight of animals on 14 representative plots in Sulawesi, Indonesia, ranging from natural rainforest to cacao agroforests that have replaced former natural forest. The conversion of natural forests with carbon stocks of 227-362 Mg C ha(-1) to agroforests with 82-211 Mg C ha(-1) showed no relationships to overall biodiversity but led to a significant loss of forest-related species richness. We conclude that the conservation of the forest-related biodiversity, and to a lesser degree of carbon stocks, mainly depends on the preservation of natural forest habitats. In the three most carbon-rich agroforestry systems, carbon stocks were about 60% of those of natural forest, suggesting that 1.6 ha of optimally managed agroforest can contribute to the conservation of carbon stocks as much as 1 ha of natural forest. However, agroforestry systems had comparatively low biodiversity, and we found no evidence for a tight link between carbon storage and biodiversity. Yet, potential win-win agroforestry management solutions include combining high shade-tree quality which favours biodiversity with cacao-yield adapted shade levels.
Project description:It has been suggested that a latitudinal gradient exists of a low density of snags and high density of naturally-formed tree-cavities in tropical vs. temperate forests, though few cavities may have characteristics suitable for nesting by birds. We determined snag and cavity density, characteristics, and suitability for birds in a tropical dry forest biome of western Mexico, and evaluated whether our data fits the trend of snag and cavity density typically found in tropical moist and wet forests. We established five 0.25-ha transects to survey and measure tree-cavities and snags in each of three vegetation types of deciduous, semi-deciduous, and mono-dominant Piranhea mexicana forest, comprising a total of 3.75 ha. We found a high density of 77 cavities/ha, with 37 cavities suitable for birds/ha, where density, and characteristics of cavities varied significantly among vegetation types. Lowest abundance of cavities occurred in deciduous forest, and these were in smaller trees, at a lower height, and with a narrower entrance diameter. Only 8.6% of cavities were excavated by woodpeckers, and only 11% of cavities were occupied, mainly by arthropods, though 52% of all cavities were unsuitable for birds. We also found a high density of 56 snags/ha, with greatest density in deciduous forest (70 snags/ha), though these were of significantly smaller diameter, and snags of larger diameter were more likely to contain cavities. The Chamela-Cuixmala tropical dry forest had the highest density of snags recorded for any tropical or temperate forest, and while snag density was significantly correlated with mean snag dbh, neither latitude nor mean dbh predicted snag density in ten forest sites. The high spatial aggregation of snag and cavity resources in tropical dry forest may limit their availability, particularly for large-bodied cavity adopters, and highlights the importance of habitat heterogeneity in providing resources for primary and secondary cavity-nesters.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Full floristic data, tree demography, and biomass estimates incorporating non-tree lifeforms are seldom collected and reported for forest plots in the tropics. Established research stations serve as important repositories of such biodiversity and ecological data. With a canopy crane setup within a tropical lowland rainforest estate, the 42-ha Daintree Rainforest Observatory (DRO) in Cape Tribulation, northern Australia is a research facility of international significance. We obtained an estimate of the vascular plant species richness for the site, by surveying all vascular plant species from various mature-phase, remnant and open vegetation patches within the site. We also integrate and report the demography and basal areas of trees ? 10 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) in a new 1-ha core plot, an extension to the pre-existing forest 1-ha plot under the canopy crane. In addition, we report for the canopy crane plot new demography and basal areas for smaller-size shrubs and treelets subsampled from nine 20 m(2) quadrats, and liana basal area and abundance from the whole plot. The DRO site has an estimated total vascular plant species richness of 441 species, of which 172 species (39%) are endemic to Australia, and 4 species are endemics to the Daintree region. The 2 x 1-ha plots contains a total of 262 vascular plant species of which 116 (1531 individuals) are tree species ? 10 cm dbh. We estimate a stem basal area of 34.9 m(2) ha(-1), of which small stems (tree saplings and shrubs <10cm dbh) and lianas collectively contribute c.4.2%. Comparing the stem density-diversity patterns of the DRO forest with other tropical rainforests globally, our meta-analysis shows that DRO forests has a comparatively high stem density and moderate species diversity, due to the influence of cyclones. These data will provide an important foundation for ecological and conservation studies in lowland tropical forest.<h4>New information</h4>We present a floristic checklist, a lifeform breakdown, and demography data from two 1-ha rainforest plots from a lowland tropical rainforest study site. We also present a meta-analysis of stem densities and species diversity from comparable-sized plots across the tropics.
Project description:There is mounting empirical evidence that lianas affect the carbon cycle of tropical forests. However, no single vegetation model takes into account this growth form, although such efforts could greatly improve the predictions of carbon dynamics in tropical forests. In this study, we incorporated a novel mechanistic representation of lianas in a dynamic global vegetation model (the Ecosystem Demography Model). We developed a liana-specific plant functional type and mechanisms representing liana-tree interactions (such as light competition, liana-specific allometries, and attachment to host trees) and parameterized them according to a comprehensive literature meta-analysis. We tested the model for an old-growth forest (Paracou, French Guiana) and a secondary forest (Gigante Peninsula, Panama). The resulting model simulations captured many features of the two forests characterized by different levels of liana infestation as revealed by a systematic comparison of the model outputs with empirical data, including local census data from forest inventories, eddy flux tower data, and terrestrial laser scanner-derived forest vertical structure. The inclusion of lianas in the simulations reduced the secondary forest net productivity by up to 0.46 t<sub>C</sub> ha<sup>-1</sup> year<sup>-1</sup> , which corresponds to a limited relative reduction of 2.6% in comparison with a reference simulation without lianas. However, this resulted in significantly reduced accumulated above-ground biomass after 70 years of regrowth by up to 20 t<sub>C</sub> /ha (19% of the reference simulation). Ultimately, the simulated negative impact of lianas on the total biomass was almost completely cancelled out when the forest reached an old-growth successional stage. Our findings suggest that lianas negatively influence the forest potential carbon sink strength, especially for young, disturbed, liana-rich sites. In light of the critical role that lianas play in the profound changes currently experienced by tropical forests, this new model provides a robust numerical tool to forecast the impact of lianas on tropical forest carbon sinks.
Project description:Tropical forests are global centres of biodiversity and carbon storage. Many tropical countries aspire to protect forest to fulfil biodiversity and climate mitigation policy targets, but the conservation strategies needed to achieve these two functions depend critically on the tropical forest tree diversity-carbon storage relationship. Assessing this relationship is challenging due to the scarcity of inventories where carbon stocks in aboveground biomass and species identifications have been simultaneously and robustly quantified. Here, we compile a unique pan-tropical dataset of 360 plots located in structurally intact old-growth closed-canopy forest, surveyed using standardised methods, allowing a multi-scale evaluation of diversity-carbon relationships in tropical forests. Diversity-carbon relationships among all plots at 1?ha scale across the tropics are absent, and within continents are either weak (Asia) or absent (Amazonia, Africa). A weak positive relationship is detectable within 1?ha plots, indicating that diversity effects in tropical forests may be scale dependent. The absence of clear diversity-carbon relationships at scales relevant to conservation planning means that carbon-centred conservation strategies will inevitably miss many high diversity ecosystems. As tropical forests can have any combination of tree diversity and carbon stocks both require explicit consideration when optimising policies to manage tropical carbon and biodiversity.
Project description:Tropical forest degradation emits carbon at a rate of approximately 0.5 Pgxy(-1), reduces biodiversity, and facilitates forest clearance. Understanding degradation drivers and patterns is therefore crucial to managing forests to mitigate climate change and reduce biodiversity loss. Putative patterns of degradation affecting forest stocks, carbon, and biodiversity have variously been described previously, but these have not been quantitatively assessed together or tested systematically. Economic theory predicts a systematic allocation of land to its highest use value in response to distance from centers of demand. We tested this theory to see if forest exploitation would expand through time and space as concentric waves, with each wave targeting lower value products. We used forest data along a transect from 10 to 220 km from Dar es Salaam (DES), Tanzania, collected at two points in time (1991 and 2005). Our predictions were confirmed: high-value logging expanded 9 kmxy(-1), and an inner wave of lower value charcoal production 2 kmxy(-1). This resource utilization is shown to reduce the public goods of carbon storage and species richness, which significantly increased with each kilometer from DES [carbon, 0.2 Mgxha(-1); 0.1 species per sample area (0.4 ha)]. Our study suggests that tropical forest degradation can be modeled and predicted, with its attendant loss of some public goods. In sub-Saharan Africa, an area experiencing the highest rate of urban migration worldwide, coupled with a high dependence on forest-based resources, predicting the spatiotemporal patterns of degradation can inform policies designed to extract resources without unsustainably reducing carbon storage and biodiversity.
Project description:The aim of this research is to investigate the patterns of vascular plant species richness, diversity, and distribution along an elevation gradient in the Abune Yosef mountain range, Ethiopia. Preferential systematic sampling was employed to collect vegetation and environmental data along the elevation gradient. We found that plant species richness declines monotonically from low to high elevations. Specifically, vascular plant species richness and diversity were lower in the Afroalpine grassland (high elevation) than in the Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Ericaceous forest (low elevations). In contrast, endemic vascular plant richness was significantly higher in the Afroalpine grassland than in the Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Ericaceous forest. Elevation showed a significant impact on the richness, diversity, and endemism of vascular plants. According to Sørensen's coefficient, the similarity between Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Ericaceous forest vegetation types is higher (32%) than the similarity between Ericaceous forest and Afroalpine grassland (18%). Only 5% similarity was recorded between the Dry evergreen Afromontane forest and Afroalpine grassland. Growth forms showed different elevational richness patterns. Trees and liana increased monotonically up to 3300 m. Shrub and herb richness patterns followed a hump-shaped and inverted hump-shaped pattern along the elevation gradient. The elevation patterns of vascular plant species richness, diversity, and growth form in the present study may be attributed to differences in management intensity, spatial heterogeneity, microclimatic variations, and anthropogenic disturbances.
Project description:Avian diversity is under increasing pressures. It is thus critical to understand the ecological variables that contribute to large scale spatial distribution of avian species diversity. Traditionally, studies have relied primarily on two-dimensional habitat structure to model broad scale species richness. Vegetation vertical structure is increasingly used at local scales. However, the spatial arrangement of vegetation height has never been taken into consideration. Our goal was to examine the efficacies of three-dimensional forest structure, particularly the spatial heterogeneity of vegetation height in improving avian richness models across forested ecoregions in the U.S. We developed novel habitat metrics to characterize the spatial arrangement of vegetation height using the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset for the year 2000 (NBCD). The height-structured metrics were compared with other habitat metrics for statistical association with richness of three forest breeding bird guilds across Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes: a broadly grouped woodland guild, and two forest breeding guilds with preferences for forest edge and for interior forest. Parametric and non-parametric models were built to examine the improvement of predictability. Height-structured metrics had the strongest associations with species richness, yielding improved predictive ability for the woodland guild richness models (r(2) = ? 0.53 for the parametric models, 0.63 the non-parametric models) and the forest edge guild models (r(2) = ? 0.34 for the parametric models, 0.47 the non-parametric models). All but one of the linear models incorporating height-structured metrics showed significantly higher adjusted-r2 values than their counterparts without additional metrics. The interior forest guild richness showed a consistent low association with height-structured metrics. Our results suggest that height heterogeneity, beyond canopy height alone, supplements habitat characterization and richness models of forest bird species. The metrics and models derived in this study demonstrate practical examples of utilizing three-dimensional vegetation data for improved characterization of spatial patterns in species richness.