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Biomass resilience of Neotropical secondary forests

Poorter L, Bongers F, Aide TM, Almeyda Zambrano AM, Balvanera P, Becknell JM, Boukili V, Brancalion PHS, Broadbent EN, Chazdon RL, Craven DJ, Almeida-Cortez JS, Cabral GAL, de Jong B, Denslow JS & Dent D (2016) Biomass resilience of Neotropical secondary forests, Nature, 530 (7589), pp. 211-214.

Additional co-authors: Saara J. DeWalt, Juan M. Dupuy, Sandra M. Durán, Mario M. Espírito-Santo, María C. Fandino, Ricardo G. César, Jefferson S. Hall, José Luis Hernandez-Stefanoni, Catarina C. Jakovac, André B. Junqueira, Deborah Kennard, Susan G. Letcher, Juan-Carlos Licona, Madelon Lohbeck, Erika Marín-Spiotta, Miguel Martínez-Ramos, Paulo Massoca, Jorge A. Meave, Rita Mesquita, Francisco Mora, Rodrigo Muñoz, Robert Muscarella, Yule R. F. Nunes, Susana Ochoa-Gaona, Alexandre A. de Oliveira, Edith Orihuela-Belmonte, Marielos Peña-Claros, Eduardo A. Pérez-García, Daniel Piotto, Jennifer S. Powers, Jorge Rodríguez-Velázquez, I. Eunice Romero-Pérez, Jorge Ruíz, Juan G. Saldarriaga, Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, Naomi B. Schwartz, Marc K. Steininger, Nathan G. Swenson, Marisol Toledo, Maria Uriarte, Michiel van Breugel, Hans van der Wal, Maria D. M. Veloso, Hans F. M. Vester, Alberto Vicentini, Ima C. G. Vieira, Tony Vizcarra Bentos, G. Bruce Williamson, Danaë M. A. Rozendaal

Land-use change occurs nowhere more rapidly than in the tropics, where the imbalance between deforestation and forest regrowth has large consequences for the global carbon cycle. However, considerable uncertainty remains about the rate of biomass recovery in secondary forests, and how these rates are influenced by climate, landscape, and prior land use. Here we analyse aboveground biomass recovery during secondary succession in 45 forest sites and about 1,500 forest plots covering the major environmental gradients in the Neotropics. The studied secondary forests are highly productive and resilient. Aboveground biomass recovery after 20 years was on average 122 megagrams per hectare (Mg ha-1), corresponding to a net carbon uptake of 3.05 Mg C ha 1 yr-1, 11 times the uptake rate of old-growth forests. Aboveground biomass stocks took a median time of 66 years to recover to 90% of old-growth values. Aboveground biomass recovery after 20 years varied 11.3-fold (from 20 to 225 Mg ha-1) across sites, and this recovery increased with water availability (higher local rainfall and lower climatic water deficit). We present a biomass recovery map of Latin America, which illustrates geographical and climatic variation in carbon sequestration potential during forest regrowth. The map will support policies to minimize forest loss in areas where biomass resilience is naturally low (such as seasonally dry forest regions) and promote forest regeneration and restoration in humid tropical lowland areas with high biomass resilience. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Forest ecology; Ecosystem services; Ecosystem ecology

AuthorsPoorter Lourens, Bongers Frans, Aide T Mitchell, Almeyda Zambrano Angelica Maria, Balvanera Patricia, Becknell Justin M, Boukili Vanessa, Brancalion Pedro H S, Broadbent Eben N, Chazdon Robin L, Craven Dylan J, Almeida-Cortez Jarcilene S, Cabral George A L, de Jong Ben, Denslow Julie S, Dent Daisy
Publication date11/02/2016
Publication date online03/02/2016
Date accepted by journal02/12/2015
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN 0028-0836

Nature: Volume 530, Issue 7589 (2016)

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