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Espirito-Santo F.D.B.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Espirito-Santo F.D.B.,University of New Hampshire | Gloor M.,University of Leeds | Keller M.,University of New Hampshire | And 22 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2014

Forest inventory studies in the Amazon indicate a large terrestrial carbon sink. However, field plots may fail to represent forest mortality processes at landscape-scales of tropical forests. Here we characterize the frequency distribution of disturbance events in natural forests from 0.01 ha to 2,651 ha size throughout Amazonia using a novel combination of forest inventory, airborne lidar and satellite remote sensing data. We find that small-scale mortality events are responsible for aboveground biomass losses of ~1.7 Pg C y -1 over the entire Amazon region. We also find that intermediate-scale disturbances account for losses of ~0.2 Pg C y-1, and that the largest-scale disturbances as a result of blow-downs only account for losses of ~0.004 Pg C y-1. Simulation of growth and mortality indicates that even when all carbon losses from intermediate and large-scale disturbances are considered, these are outweighed by the net biomass accumulation by tree growth, supporting the inference of an Amazon carbon sink. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Adrianzen M.U.,Jardin Botanico de Missouri | Adrianzen M.U.,International University Menéndez Pelayo
Revista de Biologia Tropical | Year: 2015

Amazonian forests are a vast storehouse of biodiversity and function as carbon sinks from biomass that accumulates in various tree species. In these forests, the taxa with the greatest contribution of biomass cannot be precisely defined, and the representative distribution of Myristicaceae in the Peruvian Amazon was the starting point for designing the present study, which aimed to quantify the biomass contribution of this family. For this, I analyzed the databases that corresponded to 38 sample units that were previously collected and that were provided by the Team Network and RAINFOR organizations. The analysis consisted in the estimation of biomass using pre-established allometric equations, Kruskal-Wallis sample comparisons, interpolation-analysis maps, and nonparametric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). The results showed that Myristicaceae is the fourth most important biomass contributor with 376.97Mg/ha (9.92Mg/ha in average), mainly due to its abundance. Additionally, the family shows a noticeable habitat preference for certain soil conditions in the physiographic units, such is the case of Virola pavonis in “varillales”, within “floodplain”, or Iryanthera tessmannii and Virola loretensis in sewage flooded areas or “igapó” specifically, and the preference of Virola elongata and Virola surinamensis for white water flooded areas or “várzea” edaphic conditions of the physiographic units taken in the study. © 2015, Universidad de Costa Rica. All Rights Reserved.

PubMed | University of Turku, Technical University of the North, Ibarra, James Cook University, University of Nottingham and 46 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2016

Lineages tend to retain ecological characteristics of their ancestors through time. However, for some traits, selection during evolutionary history may have also played a role in determining trait values. To address the relative importance of these processes requires large-scale quantification of traits and evolutionary relationships among species. The Amazonian tree flora comprises a high diversity of angiosperm lineages and species with widely differing life-history characteristics, providing an excellent system to investigate the combined influences of evolutionary heritage and selection in determining trait variation. We used trait data related to the major axes of life-history variation among tropical trees (e.g. growth and mortality rates) from 577 inventory plots in closed-canopy forest, mapped onto a phylogenetic hypothesis spanning more than 300 genera including all major angiosperm clades to test for evolutionary constraints on traits. We found significant phylogenetic signal (PS) for all traits, consistent with evolutionarily related genera having more similar characteristics than expected by chance. Although there is also evidence for repeated evolution of pioneer and shade tolerant life-history strategies within independent lineages, the existence of significant PS allows clearer predictions of the links between evolutionary diversity, ecosystem function and the response of tropical forests to global change.

PubMed | National University of Costa Rica, James Cook University, Herbario Universitario, Gabriel René Moreno Autonomous University and 42 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Nature | Year: 2015

Atmospheric carbon dioxide records indicate that the land surface has acted as a strong global carbon sink over recent decades, with a substantial fraction of this sink probably located in the tropics, particularly in the Amazon. Nevertheless, it is unclear how the terrestrial carbon sink will evolve as climate and atmospheric composition continue to change. Here we analyse the historical evolution of the biomass dynamics of the Amazon rainforest over three decades using a distributed network of 321 plots. While this analysis confirms that Amazon forests have acted as a long-term net biomass sink, we find a long-term decreasing trend of carbon accumulation. Rates of net increase in above-ground biomass declined by one-third during the past decade compared to the 1990s. This is a consequence of growth rate increases levelling off recently, while biomass mortality persistently increased throughout, leading to a shortening of carbon residence times. Potential drivers for the mortality increase include greater climate variability, and feedbacks of faster growth on mortality, resulting in shortened tree longevity. The observed decline of the Amazon sink diverges markedly from the recent increase in terrestrial carbon uptake at the global scale, and is contrary to expectations based on models.

PubMed | Jardin Botanico de Medellin, Smithsonian Institution, National University San Antonio Abad del Cusco, Institute Ciencias Naturales and 9 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2016

Amazon forests, which store 50% of tropical forest carbon and play a vital role in global water, energy, and carbon cycling, are predicted to experience both longer and more intense dry seasons by the end of the 21st century. However, the climate sensitivity of this ecosystem remains uncertain: several studies have predicted large-scale die-back of the Amazon, whereas several more recent studies predict that the biome will remain largely intact. Combining remote-sensing and ground-based observations with a size- and age-structured terrestrial ecosystem model, we explore the sensitivity and ecological resilience of these forests to changes in climate. We demonstrate that water stress operating at the scale of individual plants, combined with spatial variation in soil texture, explains observed patterns of variation in ecosystem biomass, composition, and dynamics across the region, and strongly influences the ecosystems resilience to changes in dry season length. Specifically, our analysis suggests that in contrast to existing predictions of either stability or catastrophic biomass loss, the Amazon forests response to a drying regional climate is likely to be an immediate, graded, heterogeneous transition from high-biomass moist forests to transitional dry forests and woody savannah-like states. Fire, logging, and other anthropogenic disturbances may, however, exacerbate these climate change-induced ecosystem transitions.

PubMed | Institute Investigaciones Of La Amazonia Peruana, James Cook University, University of Nottingham, Herbario Universitario and 39 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Global change biology | Year: 2016

Understanding the processes that determine above-ground biomass (AGB) in Amazonian forests is important for predicting the sensitivity of these ecosystems to environmental change and for designing and evaluating dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). AGB is determined by inputs from woody productivity [woody net primary productivity (NPP)] and the rate at which carbon is lost through tree mortality. Here, we test whether two direct metrics of tree mortality (the absolute rate of woody biomass loss and the rate of stem mortality) and/or woody NPP, control variation in AGB among 167 plots in intact forest across Amazonia. We then compare these relationships and the observed variation in AGB and woody NPP with the predictions of four DGVMs. The observations show that stem mortality rates, rather than absolute rates of woody biomass loss, are the most important predictor of AGB, which is consistent with the importance of stand size structure for determining spatial variation in AGB. The relationship between stem mortality rates and AGB varies among different regions of Amazonia, indicating that variation in wood density and height/diameter relationships also influences AGB. In contrast to previous findings, we find that woody NPP is not correlated with stem mortality rates and is weakly positively correlated with AGB. Across the four models, basin-wide average AGB is similar to the mean of the observations. However, the models consistently overestimate woody NPP and poorly represent the spatial patterns of both AGB and woody NPP estimated using plot data. In marked contrast to the observations, DGVMs typically show strong positive relationships between woody NPP and AGB. Resolving these differences will require incorporating forest size structure, mechanistic models of stem mortality and variation in functional composition in DGVMs.

PubMed | CIFOR, Jardin Botanico Joaquin Antonio Uribe, Red para la Mitigacion y Adaptacion al Cambio Climatico de la UNAD, Herbario Universitario and 63 more.
Type: | Journal: Scientific reports | Year: 2017

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 1ha scale across the tropics are absent, and within continents are either weak (Asia) or absent (Amazonia, Africa). A weak positive relationship is detectable within 1ha 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.

PubMed | Anglia, National University of Colombia, Fundacion Puerto Rastrojo, New York Botanical Garden and 76 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Science advances | Year: 2015

Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%. We show that the trends observed in Amazonia apply to trees throughout the tropics, and we predict that most of the worlds >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened. A gap analysis suggests that existing Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories will protect viable populations of most threatened species if these areas suffer no further degradation, highlighting the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century.

Cavanaugh K.C.,Smithsonian Institution | Cavanaugh K.C.,Brown University | Gosnell J.S.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Davis S.L.,University of California at Santa Barbara | And 13 more authors.
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2014

Aim: We examined (1) the relationships between aboveground tropical forest C storage, biodiversity and environmental drivers and (2) how these relationships inform theory concerning ecosystem function and biodiversity. Experiments have shown that there is a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, but intense debate exists on the underlying mechanisms. While some argue that mechanisms such as niche complementarity increase ecosystem function, others argue that these relationships are a selection effect. Location: Eleven tropical forests in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Methods: We analysed the correlates of biodiversity and carbon storage in tropical forests using data from 59 1-ha tree plots from a standardized global tropical forest biodiversity-monitoring network. We examined taxonomic and functional diversity, aboveground C storage and environmental variables in order to determine the relationships between biodiversity and carbon storage in natural (non-plantation) tropical forests. Results: We found that aboveground C storage in tropical forests increased with both taxonomic diversity and functional dominance, specifically the dominance of genera with large maximum diameters, after potential environmental drivers were accounted for (final model R2=0.38, P<0.001). Main conclusions: Our results suggest that niche complementarity and the selection effect are not mutually exclusive: they both play a role in structuring tropical forests. While previous studies have documented relationships between diversity and C storage, these have largely been conducted on small scales in biomes that are relatively species poor compared with tropical forests (e.g. grasslands and temperate or boreal forests). Our results demonstrate that these positive biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships are also present in hyperdiverse systems on spatial scales relevant to conservation and management. This insight can be used to inform the conservation and management of tropical forests, which play a critical role in the global carbon cycle and are some of the biologically richest ecosystems on the planet. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Banin L.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Banin L.,University of Leeds | Lewis S.L.,University of Leeds | Lewis S.L.,University College London | And 17 more authors.
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2014

Summary: Tropical forest above-ground wood production (AGWP) varies substantially along environmental gradients. Some evidence suggests that AGWP may vary between regions and specifically that Asian forests have particularly high AGWP. However, comparisons across biogeographic regions using standardized methods are lacking, limiting our assessment of pan-tropical variation in AGWP and potential causes. We sampled AGWP in NW Amazon (17 long-term forest plots) and N Borneo (11 plots), both with abundant year-round precipitation. Within each region, forests growing on a broad range of edaphic conditions were sampled using standardized soil and forest measurement techniques. Plot-level AGWP was 49% greater in Borneo than in Amazonia (9.73 ± 0.56 vs. 6.53 ± 0.34 Mg dry mass ha-1 a-1, respectively; regional mean ± 1 SE). AGWP was positively associated with soil fertility (PCA axes, sum of bases and total P). After controlling for the edaphic environment, AGWP remained significantly higher in Bornean plots. Differences in AGWP were largely attributable to differing height-diameter allometry in the two regions and the abundance of large trees in Borneo. This may be explained, in part, by the greater solar radiation in Borneo compared with NW Amazonia. Trees belonging to the dominant SE Asian family, Dipterocarpaceae, gained woody biomass faster than otherwise equivalent, neighbouring non-dipterocarps, implying that the exceptional production of Bornean forests may be driven by floristic elements. This dominant SE Asian family may partition biomass differently or be more efficient at harvesting resources and in converting them to woody biomass. Synthesis. N Bornean forests have much greater AGWP rates than those in NW Amazon when soil conditions and rainfall are controlled for. Greater resource availability and the highly productive dipterocarps may, in combination, explain why Asian forests produce wood half as fast again as comparable forests in the Amazon. Our results also suggest that taxonomic groups differ in their fundamental ability to capture carbon and that different tropical regions may therefore have different carbon uptake capacities due to biogeographic history. North Bornean forests have much greater AGWP rates than those in north-western Amazon when soil conditions and rainfall are controlled for. Greater resource availability and the highly productive dipterocarps may, in combination, explain why these Asian forests produce wood half as fast again as comparable forests in the Amazon. Our results also suggest that taxonomic groups differ in their fundamental ability to capture carbon and that different tropical regions may therefore have different carbon uptake capacities due to biogeographic history. © 2014 British Ecological Society.

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