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Lianas in gaps reduce carbon accumulation in a tropical forest

Schnitzer, Stefan A.; van der Heijden, Geertje; Mascaro, Joseph; Carson, Walter P.

Authors

Stefan A. Schnitzer

Joseph Mascaro

Walter P. Carson



Abstract

Treefall gaps are the “engines of regeneration” in tropical forests and are loci of high tree recruitment, growth, and carbon accumulation. Gaps, however, are also sites of intense competition between lianas and trees, whereby lianas can dramatically reduce tree carbon uptake and accumulation. Because lianas have relatively low biomass, they may displace far more biomass than they contribute, a hypothesis that has never been tested with the appropriate experiments. We tested this hypothesis with an 8-yr liana removal experiment in central Panama. After 8 years, mean tree biomass accumulation was 180% greater in liana-free treefall gaps compared to control gaps. Lianas themselves contributed only 24% of the tree biomass accumulation they displaced. Scaling to the forest level revealed that lianas in gaps reduced net forest woody biomass accumulation by 8.9% to nearly 18%. Consequently, lianas reduce whole-forest carbon uptake despite their relatively low biomass. This is the first study to demonstrate experimentally that plant–plant competition can result in ecosystem-wide losses in forest carbon, and it has critical implications for recently observed increases in liana density and biomass on tropical forest carbon dynamics.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2014
Journal Ecology
Print ISSN 0012-9658
Electronic ISSN 1939-9170
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 95
Issue 11
APA6 Citation Schnitzer, S. A., van der Heijden, G., Mascaro, J., & Carson, W. P. (2014). Lianas in gaps reduce carbon accumulation in a tropical forest. Ecology, 95(11), https://doi.org/10.1890/13-1718.1
DOI https://doi.org/10.1890/13-1718.1
Keywords annual increment; Barro Colorado Nature Monument; biomass; carbon storage; gap-phase regeneration; lianas; Panama; treefall gaps; tropical forests
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1890/13-1718.1/abstract
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information Copyright by the Ecological Society of America

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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