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Carbon stocks in tropical forests decrease with liana density

Journal Article

Durán SM; Gianoli E

2013

Biology Letters

9

Tropical forests are experiencing structural changes that may reduce carbon storage potential. The recent increase in liana abundance and biomass is one such potential change. Lianas account for approximately 25 per cent of woody stems and may have a strong impact on tree dynamics because severe liana infestation reduces tree growth and increases tree mortality. Based on forest inventory data from 0.1 ha plots we evaluated the association between above-ground carbon stocks and liana abundance in 145 tropical forests worldwide. Liana abundance was negatively associated with carbon stocks of large trees (greater than 10 cm diameter) while it was not related to small trees (10 cm diameter or less). Results suggest that liana abundance may have pervasive effects on carbon stocks in tropical forests as large trees store about 90 per cent of total forest carbon. We stress the need to include liana abundance in carbon stocks estimates as this can enhance the accuracy of predictions of global changes in tropical forests.

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Support

The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.