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Variation in stem mortality rates determines patterns of above-ground biomass in Amazonian forests: implications for dynamic global vegetation models

Johnson, Michelle; Galbraith, David; Gloor, Manuel; De Deaurwaerder, Hannes; Guimberteau, Mattieu; Rammig, Anja; Thonicke, Kristin; Verbeeck, Hans; von Randow, Celso; Monteagudo Mendoza, Abel; Phillips, Oliver L.; Brienen, Roel; Feldpausch, Ted R.; Lopez Gonzales, Gabriela; Fauset, Sophie; Quesada, Carlos; Christofferson, Bradley; Ciais, Phillippe; Sampaio, Gilvan; Kruijt, Bart; Meir, Patrick; Moorcroft, Paul; Zhang, Ke; Alvarez-Davila, Esteban; Alves de Oliveira, Atila; Amaral, Ieda; Andrade, Ana; Aragao, Luiz; Araujo-Murakami, Alejandro; Arets, Eric; Arroyo, Luzmila; Aymard, Gerardo; Baraloto, Christopher; Barroso, Jocely; Bonal, Damien; Boot, Rene; Camargo, Jose; Chave, Jerome; Cogollo, Alvaro; Cornejo, Fernando; Lola da Costa, Antonio; Di Fiore, Anthony; Ferreira, Leandro; Higuchi, Niro; Honorio, Euridice; Killeen, Timothy; Laurance, Susan; Laurance, William; Licona, Juan; Lovejoy, Thomas; Malhi, Yadvinder; Marimon, Bia; Marimon Junior, Ben Hur; Matos, Darley; Mendoza, Casimiro; Ne...


Michelle Johnson

David Galbraith

Manuel Gloor

Hannes De Deaurwaerder

Mattieu Guimberteau

Anja Rammig

Kristin Thonicke

Hans Verbeeck

Celso von Randow

Abel Monteagudo Mendoza

Oliver L. Phillips

Roel Brienen

Ted R. Feldpausch

Gabriela Lopez Gonzales

Sophie Fauset

Carlos Quesada

Bradley Christofferson

Phillippe Ciais

Gilvan Sampaio

Bart Kruijt

Patrick Meir

Paul Moorcroft

Ke Zhang

Esteban Alvarez-Davila

Atila Alves de Oliveira

Ieda Amaral

Ana Andrade

Luiz Aragao

Alejandro Araujo-Murakami

Eric Arets

Luzmila Arroyo

Gerardo Aymard

Christopher Baraloto

Jocely Barroso

Damien Bonal

Rene Boot

Jose Camargo

Jerome Chave

Alvaro Cogollo

Fernando Cornejo

Antonio Lola da Costa

Anthony Di Fiore

Leandro Ferreira

Niro Higuchi

Euridice Honorio

Timothy Killeen

Susan Laurance

William Laurance

Juan Licona

Thomas Lovejoy

Yadvinder Malhi

Bia Marimon

Ben Hur Marimon Junior

Darley Matos

Casimiro Mendoza

David Neill

Guido Pardo

Marielos Pena-Claros

Nigel Pitman

Lourens Poorter

Adriana Prieto

Hirma Ramirez-Angula

Anand Roopsind

Augustin Rudas

Rafael Salomao

Marcos Silveira

Juliana Stropp

Hans ter Steege

John Terborgh

Raquel Thomas

Marisol Toledo

Armando Torres-Lezama

Rodolfo Vasquez

Imez Vieira

Emilio Vilanova

Vincent Vos

Timothy Baker


Understanding the processes that determine above-ground biomass (AGB) in Amazonian forests is important for predicting the sensitivity of these ecosystems to environmental change and for designing and evaluating dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). AGB is determined by inputs from woody productivity [woody net primary productivity (NPP)] and the rate at which carbon is lost through tree mortality. Here, we test whether two direct metrics of tree mortality (the absolute rate of woody biomass loss and the rate of stem mortality) and/or woody NPP, control variation in AGB among 167 plots in intact forest across Amazonia. We then compare these relationships and the observed variation in AGB and woody NPP with the predictions of four DGVMs. The observations show that stem mortality rates, rather than absolute rates of woody biomass loss, are the most important predictor of AGB, which is consistent with the importance of stand size structure for determining spatial variation in AGB. The relationship between stem mortality rates and AGB varies among different regions of Amazonia, indicating that variation in wood density and height/diameter relationships also influences AGB. In contrast to previous findings, we find that woody NPP is not correlated with stem mortality rates and is weakly positively correlated with AGB. Across the four models, basin-wide average AGB is similar to the mean of the observations. However, the models consistently overestimate woody NPP and poorly represent the spatial patterns of both AGB and woody NPP estimated using plot data. In marked contrast to the observations, DGVMs typically show strong positive relationships between woody NPP and AGB. Resolving these differences will require incorporating forest size structure, mechanistic models of stem mortality and variation in functional composition in DGVMs.


Johnson, M., Galbraith, D., Gloor, M., De Deaurwaerder, H., Guimberteau, M., Rammig, A., …Baker, T. (in press). Variation in stem mortality rates determines patterns of above-ground biomass in Amazonian forests: implications for dynamic global vegetation models. Global Change Biology,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2016
Online Publication Date May 19, 2016
Deposit Date May 25, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 25, 2016
Journal Global Change Biology
Print ISSN 1354-1013
Electronic ISSN 1365-2486
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Publisher URL;jsessionid=A05AA58C2F6A21DFB4EC1D861F6E5B01.f01t03


Johnson_et_al-2016-Global_Change_Biology.pdf (1.1 Mb)

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