Large tree mortality and the decline of forest biomass following Amazonian wildfires

Authors

  • Jos Barlow,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
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  • Carlos A. Peres,

    1. Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
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  • Bernard O. Lagan,

    1. Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
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  • Torbjorn Haugaasen

    1. Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
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Correspondence: E-mail: j.barlow@uea.ac.uk

Abstract

Surface fires in Amazonian forests could contribute as much as 5% of annual carbon emissions from all anthropogenic sources during severe El Niño years. However, these estimates are based on short-term figures of post-burn tree mortality, when large thicker barked trees (representing a disproportionate amount of the forest biomass) appear to resist the fires. On the basis of a longer term study, we report that the mortality of large trees increased markedly between 1 and 3 years, more than doubling current estimates of biomass loss and committed carbon emissions from low-intensity fires in tropical forests.

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