Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carbon storage recovers faster than plant biodiversity in re-growing tropical forests

Date:
November 5, 2013
Source:
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Summary:
A new study of re-growing tropical forests has concluded that plant biodiversity takes longer to recover than carbon storage following major disturbances such as clearance for farming.

Intermediate secondary forest in Paragominas, Para, Brazil
Credit: Ricardo Solar

A new study of re-growing tropical forests has concluded that plant biodiversity takes longer to recover than carbon storage following major disturbances such as clearance for farming.

The findings, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, have important implications for conservation since there are now many re-growing forests in South and Central America. The new study is the first large-scale analysis of the recovery of both plant biodiversity and carbon pools in re-growing forests.

Over half of all tropical forests have already been converted for agriculture, logged or burnt in the recent past. Re-growing forests could help both to soak up carbon emissions produced by human activities and to reduce species’ extinctions.

The scientists, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Bournemouth University, concluded that although carbon recovered most quickly, even after 80 years re-growing forests tended to have less carbon than old-growth forests. This is probably because these forests are often dominated by small, fast growing trees. It may take centuries for larger trees which hold more carbon to become established.

In contrast, although the number of tree species recovered relatively rapidly, many species characteristic of old-growth forests were rare in re-growing forests. This is worrying because these species are probably those most vulnerable to extinction.

The research team conducted a synthesis of data collected from more than 600 secondary forest sites from 74 previous studies, describing carbon pools and plant biodiversity. Each site had comparable data for a nearby site that was relatively free of human disturbance.

Lead author Phil Martin, a PhD student at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, “We think plant species normally found in old-growth forests are failing to colonise re-growing forests because their seeds never get there. These recovering forests are often far from old-growth forests and surrounded by farmland. This means forest animals cannot move seeds between the two forests.”

Phil Martin added, “We suggest that when conservationists aim to restore tropical forests they should help dispersal of seeds from undisturbed to re-growing areas by planting trees throughout the wider landscape.”

In the study the researchers point out that these results show that forests that are re-growing following agricultural use may be more valuable for the carbon they store than for their biodiversity for the first 100 years. Policies such as Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) often assume that carbon and biodiversity are interchangeable. This work shows this is not the case.

Co-author Professor James Bullock from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “Our results clearly indicate that preservation of old-growth forests is vital for the conservation of specialist species. While the re-growth of forests following clearance is valuable in soaking up carbon, the biodiversity benefits will take a very long time to emerge.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Martin, Philip, Bullock, James, Newton, Adrian. Carbon pools recover more quickly than plant biodiversity in tropical secondary forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, November 2013

Cite This Page:

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "Carbon storage recovers faster than plant biodiversity in re-growing tropical forests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105194641.htm>.
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. (2013, November 5). Carbon storage recovers faster than plant biodiversity in re-growing tropical forests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105194641.htm
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "Carbon storage recovers faster than plant biodiversity in re-growing tropical forests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105194641.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP oil spill could be a way to diminish years of costly litigation. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins