Residence times of woody biomass in tropical forests

Galbraith, David, Malhi, Yadvinder, Affum-Baffoe, Kofi, Castanho, Andrea D.A., Doughty, Christopher E., Fisher, Rosie A., Lewis, Simon L., Peh, Kelvin S-H., Phillips, Oliver L., Quesada, Carlos A., Sonké, Bonaventure, and Lloyd, Jon (2013) Residence times of woody biomass in tropical forests. Plant Ecology and Diversity, 6 (1). pp. 139-157.

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Background: The woody biomass residence time (τw) of an ecosystem is an important variable for accurately simulating its biomass stocks.

Methods and results: We reviewed published data from 177 forest plots across the tropics and found a six-fold variation (23–129 years) in τw across our dataset, with a median τw of ca. 50 years. This value is similar to the median default value across 21 vegetation models for tropical forests, although the range of values used in models is large (20 to 200 years).

Conclusions: The notion of a constant τw across all tropical forests may be of limited utility, given the large observed variation in τw. We found that while there was little relationship between climate variables and τw, there was evidence that edaphic factors exerted a strong influence on τw. In both the Neotropics and the Paleotropics, τw was highest in heavily weathered soils, suggesting that low soil fertility and/or non-limiting soil physical conditions exert a critical influence on τw. There is considerable uncertainty in how τw will be affected by global environmental change, especially by increased atmospheric CO2. Even small changes in τw could significantly reduce the future tropical forest carbon sink predicted by many vegetation models.

Item ID: 33394
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1755-0874
Keywords: biomass, dynamic vegetation models \- DVGMs, ecosystem models, residence time, tropical forest
Date Deposited: 27 May 2014 01:08
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960906 Forest and Woodlands Land Management @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960505 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 50%
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