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 21, 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 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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