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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 9, issue 8 | Copyright
Biogeosciences, 9, 3381-3403, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-9-3381-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 27 Aug 2012

Research article | 27 Aug 2012

Tree height integrated into pantropical forest biomass estimates

T. R. Feldpausch1, J. Lloyd2,1, S. L. Lewis3,1, R. J. W. Brienen1, M. Gloor1, A. Monteagudo Mendoza4, G. Lopez-Gonzalez1, L. Banin5,1, K. Abu Salim6, K. Affum-Baffoe7, M. Alexiades8, S. Almeida†,9, I. Amaral10, A. Andrade10, L. E. O. C. Aragão11, A. Araujo Murakami12, E. J. M. M. Arets13, L. Arroyo12, G. A. Aymard C.14, T. R. Baker1, O. S. Bánki15, N. J. Berry16, N. Cardozo17, J. Chave18, J. A. Comiskey19, E. Alvarez20, A. de Oliveira10, A. Di Fiore21, G. Djagbletey22, T. F. Domingues23, T. L. Erwin24, P. M. Fearnside10, M. B. França10, M. A. Freitas9, N. Higuchi10, E. Honorio C.1, Y. Iida25, E. Jiménez26, A. R. Kassim27, T. J. Killeen28, W. F. Laurance29, J. C. Lovett30, Y. Malhi31, B. S. Marimon32, B. H. Marimon-Junior32, E. Lenza32, A. R. Marshall33,34, C. Mendoza35, D. J. Metcalfe36, E. T. A. Mitchard37, D. A. Neill38, B. W. Nelson39, R. Nilus40, E. M. Nogueira10, A. Parada12, K. S.-H. Peh41, A. Pena Cruz42, M. C. Peñuela26, N. C. A. Pitman43, A. Prieto44, C. A. Quesada10, F. Ramírez17, H. Ramírez-Angulo45, J. M. Reitsma46, A. Rudas47, G. Saiz48, R. P. Salomão9, M. Schwarz1, N. Silva49, J. E. Silva-Espejo50, M. Silveira51, B. Sonké52, J. Stropp53, H. E. Taedoumg52, S. Tan54, H. ter Steege55, J. Terborgh43, M. Torello-Raventos2, G. M. F. van der Heijden56,57, R. Vásquez42, E. Vilanova58, V. A. Vos59,60, L. White61,62,63, S. Willcock1, H. Woell64, and O. L. Phillips1 T. R. Feldpausch et al.
  • 1School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 2School of Earth and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia
  • 3Department of Geography, University College London, UK
  • 4RAINFOR/Jardín Botánico de Missouri, Peru
  • 5School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, UK
  • 6Biology Programme, Faculty of Science, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Tungku Link Road BE1410, Brunei Darussalam
  • 7Resource Management Support Centre, Forestry Commission of Ghana, P.O. Box 1457, Kumasi, Ghana
  • 8New York Botanical Garden, New York City, New York 10458, USA
  • 9Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Av. Magalhães Barata, 376, São Braz, 66040-170, Belém, PA, Brazil
  • 10National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, Amazonas, 69011-970, Brazil
  • 11Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK
  • 12Museo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff Mercado, Universidad Autonoma Gabriel Rene Moreno, Casilla 2489, Av. Irala 565, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • 13Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 14UNELLEZ-Guanare, Programa de Ciencias del Agro y el Mar, Herbario Universitario (PORT), Mesa de Cavacas, Estado Portuguesa 3350, Venezuela
  • 15IBED, University of Amsterdam, POSTBUS 94248, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 16School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JN, UK
  • 17Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Iquitos, Loreto, Perú
  • 18Université Paul Sabatier, Laboratoire EDB, bâtiment 4R3, 31062 Toulouse, France
  • 19Mid-Atlantic Network, Inventory and Monitoring Program, National Park Service, 120 Chatham Lane, Fredericksburg, VA 22405, USA
  • 20Jardin Botanico de Medellin, Colombia
  • 21Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, SAC 5.150 Mailcode C3200, Austin, TX 78712, USA
  • 22Ecosystem and Climate Change Division (ESCCD) Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), U.P. Box 63, KNUST-Kumasi, Ghana
  • 23Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, 05508-090, Brazil
  • 24Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 37012, MRC 187, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
  • 25Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0810, Japan
  • 26Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Kilómetro 2 Via Tarapacá, Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia
  • 27Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), 52109 Kepong, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
  • 28Conservation International, 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
  • 29Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) and School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland 4878, Australia
  • 30CSTM, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
  • 31Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK
  • 32Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Campus de Nova Xavantina, Caixa Postal 08, CEP 78.690-000, Nova Xavantina, MT, Brazil
  • 33CIRCLE, Environment Department, University of York, York, UK
  • 34Flamingo Land Ltd., Kirby Misperton, YO17 6UX, UK
  • 35FOMABO (Manejo Forestal en las Tierras Tropicales de Bolivia), Sacta, Bolivia
  • 36CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical forest Research Centre, P.O. Box 780, Atherton, QLD 4883, Australia
  • 37School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond St, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, UK
  • 38Universidad Estatal Amazónica, Facultad de Ingeniería Ambiental, Paso lateral km 2 1/2 via Napo, Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador
  • 39National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA), Environmental Dynamics Department, C.P. 478, Manaus, Amazonas, CEP 69011-970, Brazil
  • 40Forest Research Centre, Sabah Forestry Department, Sandakan, 90715, Malaysia
  • 41Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, CB2 3EJ, UK
  • 42Jardín Botánico de Missouri, Oxapampa, Pasco, Peru
  • 43Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University, Box 90381, Durham, NC 27708, USA
  • 44Doctorado Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • 45Universidad de Los Andes, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Ambientales, Mérida, Venezuela
  • 46Bureau Waardenburg bv, P.O. Box 365, 4100 AJ Culemborg, The Netherlands
  • 47Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia
  • 48Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 49UFRA – Universidade Federal Rural da Amazônia, Brasil
  • 50Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco, Av. de la Cultura No. 733. Cusco, Peru
  • 51Universidade Federal do Acre, Rio Branco AC 69910-900, Brazil
  • 52Department of Biology, University of Yaoundé I, P.O. Box 047, Yaoundé, Cameroon
  • 53European Commission – DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Via Enrico Fermi 274, 21010 Ispra, Italy
  • 54Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
  • 55NCB Naturalis, PO Box, 2300 RA, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • 56University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Department of Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 413, 53201, USA
  • 57Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa, Republic of Panama
  • 58Instituto de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo Forestal (INDEFOR), Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela
  • 59PROMAB, Casilla 107, Riberalta, Beni, Bolivia
  • 60Universidad Autonoma del Beni, Campus Universitario, Av. Ejército Nacional, final, Riberalta, Beni, Bolivia
  • 61Agence National des Parcs Nationaux, Libreville, Gabon
  • 62Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale (CENAREST), Gabon
  • 63School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, UK
  • 64Sommersbergseestr. 291, 8990 Bad Aussee, Austria
  • deceased

Abstract. Aboveground tropical tree biomass and carbon storage estimates commonly ignore tree height (H). We estimate the effect of incorporating H on tropics-wide forest biomass estimates in 327 plots across four continents using 42 656 H and diameter measurements and harvested trees from 20 sites to answer the following questions:

1. What is the best H-model form and geographic unit to include in biomass models to minimise site-level uncertainty in estimates of destructive biomass?

2. To what extent does including H estimates derived in (1) reduce uncertainty in biomass estimates across all 327 plots?

3. What effect does accounting for H have on plot- and continental-scale forest biomass estimates?

The mean relative error in biomass estimates of destructively harvested trees when including H (mean 0.06), was half that when excluding H (mean 0.13). Power- and Weibull-H models provided the greatest reduction in uncertainty, with regional Weibull-H models preferred because they reduce uncertainty in smaller-diameter classes (≤40 cm D) that store about one-third of biomass per hectare in most forests. Propagating the relationships from destructively harvested tree biomass to each of the 327 plots from across the tropics shows that including H reduces errors from 41.8 Mg ha−1 (range 6.6 to 112.4) to 8.0 Mg ha−1 (−2.5 to 23.0). For all plots, aboveground live biomass was −52.2 Mg ha−1 (−82.0 to −20.3 bootstrapped 95% CI), or 13%, lower when including H estimates, with the greatest relative reductions in estimated biomass in forests of the Brazilian Shield, east Africa, and Australia, and relatively little change in the Guiana Shield, central Africa and southeast Asia. Appreciably different stand structure was observed among regions across the tropical continents, with some storing significantly more biomass in small diameter stems, which affects selection of the best height models to reduce uncertainty and biomass reductions due to H. After accounting for variation in H, total biomass per hectare is greatest in Australia, the Guiana Shield, Asia, central and east Africa, and lowest in east-central Amazonia, W. Africa, W. Amazonia, and the Brazilian Shield (descending order). Thus, if tropical forests span 1668 million km2 and store 285 Pg C (estimate including H), then applying our regional relationships implies that carbon storage is overestimated by 35 Pg C (31–39 bootstrapped 95% CI) if H is ignored, assuming that the sampled plots are an unbiased statistical representation of all tropical forest in terms of biomass and height factors. Our results show that tree H is an important allometric factor that needs to be included in future forest biomass estimates to reduce error in estimates of tropical carbon stocks and emissions due to deforestation.

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