Tree allometry and improved estimation of carbon stocks and balance in tropical forests

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Journal Article
Oecologia, 2005, 145 (1), pp. 87 - 99
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Tropical forests hold large stored of carbonyet uncertainty remains regarding their quantitative contribution to the global carbon cycle. One approach to quantifying carbon biomass stores consists in inferrinng changes from long-term forsts inventory data ito an estimate of aboveground biomass (AGB). We provide a critical reassessment of the quality and the robustness of these models across tropical forest types, using a large dataset of 2,410 trees- 5cm diameter, directly harvested in 27 study sites across the tropics. Proportional relationships between aboveground biomass and the product of wood density, trunk corss-sectional area, and total height are constructed. We also develop aregression model involving wood density and stem diameter only. Our models were tested for secondary and old-growth forets, for dry, moist and wet forests, for lowland and motane forests, and for mangrove forets, Themost important repdicators of AGB of a tree were, in decreasing order of importance, its truck diameter wood specific gravity, total height, and forest type (dry, moist, or wet). Overestimates prevailed, giving a bias of 0.5-6.5% when errors were averaged across all stands. Our regression models can be used reliably to predict aboveground tree biomass across a broad range of tropical forests. Because they are based on an unprecedented dataset, these models should imporve the quality of tropical biomass estimates, and bring consensus about the contribution of the tropical forest biome and tropical deforestation to the global carbon cycle.
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