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Higher treefall rates on slopes and waterlogged soils result in lower stand biomass and productivity in a tropical rain forest

Ferry B., Morneau F., Bontemps J.D., Blanc L., Freycon V.. 2010. Journal of Ecology, 98 (1) : p. 106-116.

1. Relationships between tropical rain forest biomass and environmental factors have been determined at regional scales, e.g. the Amazon Basin, but the reasons for the high variability in forest biomass at local scales are poorly understood. Interactions between topography, soil properties, tree growth and mortality rates, and treefalls are a likely reason for this variability. 2. We used repeated measurements of permanent plots in lowland rain forest in French Guiana to evaluate these relationships. The plots sampled topographic gradients from hilltops to slopes to bottomlands, with accompanying variation in soil waterlogging along these gradients. Biomass was calculated for >175 tree species in the plots, along with biomass productivity and recruitment rates. Mortality was determined as standing dead and treefalls. 3. Treefall rates were twice as high in bottomlands as on hilltops, and tree recruitment rates, radial growth rates and the abundance of light-demanding tree species were also higher. 4. In the bottomlands, the mean wood density was 10% lower than on hilltops, the basal area 29% lower and the height:diameter ratio of trees was lower, collectively resulting in a total woody biomass that was 43% lower in bottomlands than on hilltops. 5. Biomass productivity was 9% lower in bottomlands than on hilltops, even though soil Olsen P concentrations were higher in bottomlands. 6. Synthesis. Along a topographic gradient from hilltops to bottomlands there were higher rates of treefall, which decreased the stand basal area and favoured lower allocation to height growth and recruitment of light-demanding species with low wood density. The resultant large variation in tree biomass along the gradient shows the importance of determining site characteristics and including these characteristics when scaling up biomass estimates from stand to local or regional scales. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : sol hydromorphe; croissance; production forestière; mortalité; topographie; facteur édaphique; facteur du milieu; biomasse; forêt tropicale humide; guyane française; amazone

Thématique : Production forestière; Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Ecologie végétale

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