[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Keywords:
Climate;ectomycorrhizal associations;large tree density;pan-tropical analysis;soils;species traits;tree size;tropical forest biomass;wood density;wind dispersal
Large trees (d.b.h. ≥ 70 cm) 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.
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.
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.
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. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geb.12092/abstract
Global Ecology and Biogeography 11/2013; 22:1261-1271. · 7.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report above-ground biomass (AGB), basal area, stem density and wood mass density estimates from 260 sample plots (mean size: 1.2 ha) in intact closed-canopy tropical forests across 12 African countries. Mean AGB is 395.7 Mg dry mass ha(-1) (95% CI: 14.3), substantially higher than Amazonian values, with the Congo Basin and contiguous forest region attaining AGB values (429 Mg ha(-1)) similar to those of Bornean forests, and significantly greater than East or West African forests. AGB therefore appears generally higher in palaeo- compared with neotropical forests. However, mean stem density is low (426 ± 11 stems ha(-1) greater than or equal to 100 mm diameter) compared with both Amazonian and Bornean forests (cf. approx. 600) and is the signature structural feature of African tropical forests. While spatial autocorrelation complicates analyses, AGB shows a positive relationship with rainfall in the driest nine months of the year, and an opposite association with the wettest three months of the year; a negative relationship with temperature; positive relationship with clay-rich soils; and negative relationships with C : N ratio (suggesting a positive soil phosphorus-AGB relationship), and soil fertility computed as the sum of base cations. The results indicate that AGB is mediated by both climate and soils, and suggest that the AGB of African closed-canopy tropical forests may be particularly sensitive to future precipitation and temperature changes.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 01/2013; 368(1625):20120295. · 6.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aim To test the extent to which the vertical structure of tropical forests is determined by environment, forest structure or biogeographical history. Location Pan-tropical. Methods Using height and diameter data from 20,497 trees in 112 non-contiguous plots, asymptotic maximum height (HAM) and height–diameter relationships were computed with nonlinear mixed effects (NLME) models to: (1) test for environmental and structural causes of differences among plots, and (2) test if there were continental differences once environment and structure were accounted for; persistence of differences may imply the importance of biogeography for vertical forest structure. NLME analyses for floristic subsets of data (only/excluding Fabaceae and only/excluding Dipterocarpaceae individuals) were used to examine whether family-level patterns revealed biogeographical explanations of cross-continental differences. Results HAM and allometry were significantly different amongst continents. HAM was greatest in Asian forests (58.3 ± 7.5 m, 95% CI), followed by forests in Africa (45.1 ± 2.6 m), America (35.8 ± 6.0 m) and Australia (35.0 ± 7.4 m), and height–diameter relationships varied similarly; for a given diameter, stems were tallest in Asia, followed by Africa, America and Australia. Precipitation seasonality, basal area, stem density, solar radiation and wood density each explained some variation in allometry and HAM yet continental differences persisted even after these were accounted for. Analyses using floristic subsets showed that significant continental differences in HAM and allometry persisted in all cases. Main conclusions Tree allometry and maximum height are altered by environmental conditions, forest structure and wood density. Yet, even after accounting for these, tropical forest architecture varies significantly from continent to continent. The greater stature of tropical forests in Asia is not directly determined by the dominance of the family Dipterocarpaceae, as on average non-dipterocarps are equally tall. We hypothesise that dominant large-statured families create conditions in which only tall species can compete, thus perpetuating a forest dominated by tall individuals from diverse families.
Global Ecology and Biogeography 12/2012; · 7.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aim Our aim was to evaluate the extent to which we can predict and map tree alpha diversity across broad spatial scales either by using climate and remote sensing data or by exploiting spatial autocorrelation patterns. Location Tropical rain forest, West Africa and Atlantic Central Africa. Methods Alpha diversity estimates were compiled for trees with diameter at breast height ≥ 10 cm in 573 inventory plots. Linear regression (ordinary least squares, OLS) and random forest (RF) statistical techniques were used to project alpha diversity estimates at unsampled locations using climate data and remote sensing data [Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), Quick Scatterometer (QSCAT), tree cover, elevation]. The prediction reliabilities of OLS and RF models were evaluated using a novel approach and compared to that of a kriging model based on geographic location alone. Results The predictive power of the kriging model was comparable to that of OLS and RF models based on climatic and remote sensing data. The three models provided congruent predictions of alpha diversity in well-sampled areas but not in poorly inventoried locations. The reliability of the predictions of all three models declined markedly with distance from points with inventory data, becoming very low at distances > 50 km. According to inventory data, Atlantic Central African forests display a higher mean alpha diversity than do West African forests. Main conclusions The lower tree alpha diversity in West Africa than in Atlantic Central Africa may reflect a richer regional species pool in the latter. Our results emphasize and illustrate the need to test model predictions in a spatially explicit manner. Good OLS or RF model predictions from inventory data at short distance largely result from the strong spatial autocorrelation displayed by both the alpha diversity and the predictive variables rather than necessarily from causal relationships. Our results suggest that alpha diversity is driven by history rather than by the contemporary environment. Given the low predictive power of models, we call for a major effort to broaden the geographical extent and intensity of forest assessments to expand our knowledge of African rain forest diversity.
Journal of Biogeography 02/2011; 38(6):1164-1176. · 4.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tropical tree height-diameter (H:D) relationships may vary by forest type and region making large-scale estimates of above-ground biomass subject to bias if they ignore these differences in stem allometry. We have therefore developed a new global tropical forest database consisting of 39 955 concurrent H and D measurements encompassing 283 sites in 22 tropical countries. Utilising this database, our objectives were: 1. to determine if H:D relationships differ by geographic region and forest type (wet to dry forests, including zones of tension where forest and savanna overlap). 2. to ascertain if the H:D relationship is modulated by climate and/or forest structural characteristics (e.g. stand-level basal area, A). 3. to develop H:D allometric equations and evaluate biases to reduce error in future local-to-global estimates of tropical forest biomass. Annual precipitation coefficient of variation (PV), dry season length (SD), and mean annual air temperature (TA) emerged as key drivers of variation in H:D relationships at the pantropical and region scales. Vegetation structure also played a role with trees in forests of a high A being, on average, taller at any given D. After the effects of environment and forest structure are taken into account, two main regional groups can be identified. Forests in Asia, Africa and the Guyana Shield all have, on average, similar H:D relationships, but with trees in the forests of much of the Amazon Basin and tropical Australia typically being shorter at any given D than their counterparts elsewhere. The region-environment-structure model with the lowest Akaike's information criterion and lowest deviation estimated stand-level H across all plots to within a median –2.7 to 0.9% of the true value. Some of the plot-to-plot variability in H:D relationships not accounted for by this model could be attributed to variations in soil physical conditions. Other things being equal, trees tend to be more slender in the absence of soil physical constraints, especially at smaller D. Pantropical and continental-level models provided only poor estimates of H, especially when the roles of climate and stand structure in modulating H:D allometry were not simultaneously taken into account.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The response of terrestrial vegetation to a globally changing environment is central to predictions of future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The role of tropical forests is critical because they are carbon-dense and highly productive. Inventory plots across Amazonia show that old-growth forests have increased in carbon storage over recent decades, but the response of one-third of the world's tropical forests in Africa is largely unknown owing to an absence of spatially extensive observation networks. Here we report data from a ten-country network of long-term monitoring plots in African tropical forests. We find that across 79 plots (163 ha) above-ground carbon storage in live trees increased by 0.63 Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1) between 1968 and 2007 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.22-0.94; mean interval, 1987-96). Extrapolation to unmeasured forest components (live roots, small trees, necromass) and scaling to the continent implies a total increase in carbon storage in African tropical forest trees of 0.34 Pg C yr(-1) (CI, 0.15-0.43). These reported changes in carbon storage are similar to those reported for Amazonian forests per unit area, providing evidence that increasing carbon storage in old-growth forests is a pan-tropical phenomenon. Indeed, combining all standardized inventory data from this study and from tropical America and Asia together yields a comparable figure of 0.49 Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1) (n = 156; 562 ha; CI, 0.29-0.66; mean interval, 1987-97). This indicates a carbon sink of 1.3 Pg C yr(-1) (CI, 0.8-1.6) across all tropical forests during recent decades. Taxon-specific analyses of African inventory and other data suggest that widespread changes in resource availability, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, may be the cause of the increase in carbon stocks, as some theory and models predict.