Spatial and temporal variation of biomass in a tropical forest: results from a large census plot in Panama

Authors

  • Jérôme Chave,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS/UPS, 118 route de Narbonne bâtiment IVR3, F-31062 Toulouse, France,
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA,
      Jérôme Chave, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS/UPS, 118 route de Narbonne bâtiment IVR3, F-31062 Toulouse, France (e-mail chave@cict.fr).
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  • Richard Condit,

    1. Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Washington, DC 20560–0580, USA,
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  • Suzanne Lao,

    1. Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Washington, DC 20560–0580, USA,
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  • John P. Caspersen,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA,
    2. Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B3,
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  • Robin B. Foster,

    1. Department of Botany, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, USA, and
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  • Stephen P. Hubbell

    1. Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Washington, DC 20560–0580, USA,
    2. Department of Botany, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
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Jérôme Chave, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS/UPS, 118 route de Narbonne bâtiment IVR3, F-31062 Toulouse, France (e-mail chave@cict.fr).

Summary

  • 1We estimated the dry, living, above-ground biomass (AGB) standing stock and its turnover in a 50-hectare forest plot located in moist tropical forest on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The estimates were obtained using inventory data collected every 5 years from 1985 to 2000, including measurements of all trees ≥ 1 cm diameter.
  • 2Four different allometric regressions relating trunk diameter and height with AGB were compared. Based on the most consistent method, we estimated that the Barro Colorado forest holds 281 ± 20 Mg ha−1 (1 Mg = 103 kg) of AGB, lianas included. A third of the AGB is stored in trees larger than 70 cm in diameter.
  • 3Stand-level AGB increment (growth plus recruitment) was highest in the period 1985–90 (7.05 ± 0.32 Mg ha−1 year−1, mean ± 95% confidence limits based on samples of multiple hectares) and smallest in the period 1990–95 (5.25 ± 0.26 Mg ha−1 year−1), while AGB losses were similar during the three intervals (mean 5.43 ± 0.72 Mg ha−1 year−1). This resulted in significant differences in AGB change (defined as increment minus loss) among census intervals; including branchfalls, the AGB of Barro Colorado Island increased in 1985–90 (+0.82 ± 0.84 Mg ha−1 year−1), decreased in 1990–95 (−0.69 ± 0.82 Mg ha−1 year−1), and increased again in 1995–2000 (+0.45 ± 0.70 Mg ha−1 year−1). The 15-year average was +0.20 Mg ha−1 year−1, but with a confidence interval that spanned zero (−0.68 to 0.63 Mg ha−1 year−1).
  • 4Branchfalls and partial breakage of stems had a significant influence on the AGB changes. They contributed an average of 0.46 Mg ha−1 year−1 to the AGB loss. About 5% of AGB increment was due to trees less than 10 cm in diameter.
  • 5To test whether the AGB of tropical forests is increasing due to climate change, we propose that in each forest type, at least 10 hectares of forest be inventoried, and that measurements of the small classes (< 10 cm diameter) as well as large size classes be included. Biomass loss due to crown damage should also be estimated.

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