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Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests


Liu, Xiaojuan; Trogisch, Stefan; He, Jin-Sheng; Niklaus, Pascal A; Bruelheide, Helge; Tang, Zhiyao; Erfmeier, Alexandra; Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael; Pietsch, Katherina A; Yang, Bo; Kühn, Peter; Scholten, Thomas; Huang, Yuanyuan; Wang, Chao; Staab, Michael; Leppert, Katrin N; Wirth, Christian; Schmid, Bernhard; Ma, Keping (2018). Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 285(1885):20181240.

Abstract

Forest ecosystems are an integral component of the global carbon cycle as they take up and release large amounts of C over short time periods (C flux) or accumulate it over longer time periods (C stock). However, there remains uncertainty about whether and in which direction C fluxes and in particular C stocks may differ between forests of high versus low species richness. Based on a comprehensive dataset derived from field-based measurements, we tested the effect of species richness (3–20 tree species) and stand age (22–116 years) on six compartments of above- and below-ground C stocks and four components of C fluxes in subtropical forests in southeast China. Across forest stands, total C stock was 149 ± 12 Mg ha⁻¹ with richness explaining 28.5% and age explaining 29.4% of variation in this measure. Species-rich stands had higher C stocks and fluxes than stands with low rich- ness; and, in addition, old stands had higher C stocks than young ones. Overall, for each additional tree species, the total C stock increased by 6.4%. Our results provide comprehensive evidence for diversity-mediated above- and below-ground C sequestration in species-rich subtropical forests in southeast China. Therefore, afforestation policies in this region and else- where should consider a change from the current focus on monocultures to multi-species plantations to increase C fixation and thus slow increasing atmospheric CO concentrations and global warming.

Abstract

Forest ecosystems are an integral component of the global carbon cycle as they take up and release large amounts of C over short time periods (C flux) or accumulate it over longer time periods (C stock). However, there remains uncertainty about whether and in which direction C fluxes and in particular C stocks may differ between forests of high versus low species richness. Based on a comprehensive dataset derived from field-based measurements, we tested the effect of species richness (3–20 tree species) and stand age (22–116 years) on six compartments of above- and below-ground C stocks and four components of C fluxes in subtropical forests in southeast China. Across forest stands, total C stock was 149 ± 12 Mg ha⁻¹ with richness explaining 28.5% and age explaining 29.4% of variation in this measure. Species-rich stands had higher C stocks and fluxes than stands with low rich- ness; and, in addition, old stands had higher C stocks than young ones. Overall, for each additional tree species, the total C stock increased by 6.4%. Our results provide comprehensive evidence for diversity-mediated above- and below-ground C sequestration in species-rich subtropical forests in southeast China. Therefore, afforestation policies in this region and else- where should consider a change from the current focus on monocultures to multi-species plantations to increase C fixation and thus slow increasing atmospheric CO concentrations and global warming.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Environmental Science, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:29 August 2018
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 13:33
Last Modified:30 Jan 2019 13:35
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.1240
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_130720
  • : Project TitleCommunity history and ecosystem functioning
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID310030B_147092
  • : Project TitleCommunity history, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

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