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An ecosystem approach to biodiversity effects: Carbon pools in a tropical tree plantation

An ecosystem approach to biodiversity effects: Carbon pools in a tropical tree plantation,10.1016/j.foreco.2010.11.015,Fuel and Energy Abstracts,Cathe

An ecosystem approach to biodiversity effects: Carbon pools in a tropical tree plantation  
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This paper presents a synthesis of experiments conducted in a tropical tree plantation established in 2001 and consisting of 22 plots of 45m×45m with either one, three or six native tree species. We examined the changes in carbon (C) pools (trees, herbaceous vegetation, litter, coarse woody debris (CWD), and mineral topsoil at 0–10cm depth) and fluxes (decomposition of CWD and litter, as well as soil respiration) both through time and among diversity levels. Between 2001 and 2009 the aboveground C pools increased, driven by trees. Across diversity levels, the mean observed aboveground C pool was 7.9±2.5Mgha−1 in 2006 and 20.4±7.4Mgha−1 in 2009, a 158% increase. There was no significant diversity effect on the observed aboveground C pool, but we found a significant decrease in the topsoil C pool, with a mean value of 34.5±2.4Mgha−1 in 2001 and of 25.7±5.7Mgha−1 in 2009 (F1,36=52.12, p<0.001). Assuming that the biomass C pool in 2001 was negligible (<1Mgha−1), then the plantation gained in C, on average, ∼20 and lost ∼9Mgha−1 in biomass and soil respectively, for an overall gain of ∼11Mgha−1 over 8 years. Across the entire data set, we uncovered significant effects of diversity on CWD decomposition (diversity: F2,393=15.93, p<0.001) and soil respiration (monocultures vs mixtures: t=15.35, df=11, p<0.05) and a marginally significant time×diversity interaction on the loss of total C from the mineral topsoil pool (see above). Monthly CWD decomposition was significantly faster in monocultures (35.0±24.1%) compared with triplets (31.3±21.0%) and six-species mixtures (31.9±26.8%), while soil respiration was higher in monocultures than in mixtures (t=15.35, df=11, p<0.001). Path analyses showed that, as diversity increases, the links among the C pools and fluxes strengthen significantly. Our results demonstrate that tree diversity influences the processes governing the changes in C pools and fluxes following establishment of a tree plantation on a former pasture. We conclude that the choice of tree mixtures for afforestation in the tropics can have a marked influence on C pools and dynamics.
Journal: Fuel and Energy Abstracts , vol. 261, no. 10, pp. 1614-1624, 2011
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