• carbon;
  • Caribbean forests;
  • down woody material;
  • subtropical forests


Dead wood is a substantial carbon stock in terrestrial forest ecosystems and hence a critical component of global carbon cycles. Given the limited amounts of dead wood biomass and carbon stock information for Caribbean forests, our objectives were to: (1) describe the relative contribution of down woody materials (DWM) to carbon stocks on the island of St. John; (2) compare these contributions among differing stand characteristics in subtropical moist and dry forests; and (3) compare down woody material carbon stocks on St. John to those observed in other tropical and temperate forests. Our results indicate that dead wood and litter comprise an average of 20 percent of total carbon stocks on St. John in both moist and dry forest life zones. Island-wide, dead wood biomass on the ground ranged from 4.55 to 28.11 Mg/ha. Coarse woody material biomass and carbon content were higher in moist forests than in dry forests. No other down woody material components differed between life zones or among vegetation categories (P > 0.05). Live tree density was positively correlated with fine woody material and litter in the moist forest life zone (R= 0.57 and 0.84, respectively) and snag basal area was positively correlated with total down woody material amounts (R= 0.50) in dry forest. Our study indicates that DWM are important contributors to the total biomass and, therefore, carbon budgets in subtropical systems, and that contributions of DWM on St. John appear to be comparable to values given for similar dry forest systems.