Large trees drive forest aboveground biomass variation in moist lowland forests across the tropics
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Aim: Large trees (d.b.h.≥70cm) store large amounts of biomass. Several studies suggest that large trees may be vulnerable to changing climate, potentially leading to declining forest biomass storage. Here we determine the importance of large trees for tropical forest biomass storage and explore which intrinsic (species trait) and extrinsic (environment) variables are associated with the density of large trees and forest biomass at continental and pan-tropical scales. Location: Pan-tropical. Methods: Aboveground biomass (AGB) was calculated for 120 intact lowland moist forest locations. Linear regression was used to calculate variation in AGB explained by the density of large trees. Akaike information criterion weights (AICc-wi) were used to calculate averaged correlation coefficients for all possible multiple regression models between AGB/density of large trees and environmental and species trait variables correcting for spatial autocorrelation. Results: Density of large trees explained c. 70% of the variation in pan-tropical AGB and was also responsible for significantly lower AGB in Neotropical [287.8 (mean)±105.0 (SD) Mg ha-1] versus Palaeotropical forests (Africa 418.3±91.8 Mg ha-1; Asia 393.3±109.3 Mg ha-1). Pan-tropical variation in density of large trees and AGB was associated with soil coarseness (negative), soil fertility (positive), community wood density (positive) and dominance of wind dispersed species (positive), temperature in the coldest month (negative), temperature in the warmest month (negative) and rainfall in the wettest month (positive), but results were not always consistent among continents. Main conclusions: Density of large trees and AGB were significantly associated with climatic variables, indicating that climate change will affect tropical forest biomass storage. Species trait composition will interact with these future biomass changes as they are also affected by a warmer climate. Given the importance of large trees for variation in AGB across the tropics, and their sensitivity to climate change, we emphasize the need for in-depth analyses of the community dynamics of large trees. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
SubjectScience & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
large tree density
tropical forest biomass
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1111/geb.12092
Publication InfoPoulsen, John; Slik, JW Ferry; Paoli, Gary; McGuire, Krista; Amaral, Ieda; Barroso, Jorcely; ... Zweifel, Nicole (2013). Large trees drive forest aboveground biomass variation in moist lowland forests across the tropics. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 22(12). pp. 1261-1271. 10.1111/geb.12092. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17631.
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Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology
John Poulsen is an ecologist with broad interests in the maintenance and regeneration of tropical forests and conservation of biodiversity. His research has focused on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, such as logging and hunting, on forest structure and diversity, abundance of tropical animals, and ecological processes. He has conducted most of his research in Central Africa, where he has also worked as a conservation manager, directing projects to sustainably manage natural resources i