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Increasing biomass in Amazonian forest plots

Baker, T.R., Phillips, O.L., Malhi, Y., Almeida, S., Arroyo, L., Di Fiore, A., Erwin, T., Higuchi, N., Killeen, T.J., Laurance, S.G., Laurance, W.F., Lewis, S.L., Monteagudo, A., Neill, D.A., Nunez Vargas, P., Pitman, N.C.A., Silva, J.N.M. and Vasquez Martinez, R. (2004) Increasing biomass in Amazonian forest plots. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society Of London Series B - Biological Sciences, 359 (1443). pp. 353-365. ISSN 1471-2970

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Abstract

A previous study by Phillips et al. of changes in the biomass of permanent sample plots in Amazonian forests was used to infer the presence of a regional carbon sink. However, these results generated a vigorous debate about sampling and methodological issues. Therefore we present a new analysis of biomass change in old-growth Amazonian forest plots using updated inventory data. We find that across 59 sites, the above-ground dry biomass in trees that are more than 10 cm in diameter (AGB) has increased since plot establishment by 1.22 ± 0.43 Mg per hectare per year (ha-1 yr-1), where 1 ha = 104 m2), or 0.98 ± 0.38 Mg ha-1 yr-1 if individual plot values are weighted by the number of hectare years of monitoring. This significant increase is neither confounded by spatial or temporal variation in wood specific gravity, nor dependent on the allometric equation used to estimate AGB. The conclusion is also robust to uncertainty about diameter measurements for problematic trees: for 34 plots in western Amazon forests a significant increase in AGB is found even with a conservative assumption of zero growth for all trees where diameter measurements were made using optical methods and/or growth rates needed to be estimated following fieldwork. Overall, our results suggest a slightly greater rate of net stand-level change than was reported by Phillips et al. Considering the spatial and temporal scale of sampling and associated studies showing increases in forest growth and stem turnover, the results presented here suggest that the total biomass of these plots has on average increased and that there has been a regional-scale carbon sink in old-growth Amazonian forests during the previous two decades.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2004 The Royal Society
Keywords: amazonia, biomass, carbon, permanent plot, tropical forests
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2005
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2014 09:27
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: doi: 10.1098/rstb.2003.1422
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/242

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