Espírito-Santo, Fernando D.B. and Gloor, Manuel and Keller, Michael and Malhi, Yadvinder and Saatchi, Sassan and Nelson, Bruce and Oliveira, Raimundo C., Junior and Pereira, Cleuton and Lloyd, Jon and Frolking, Steve and Palace, Michael and Shimabukuro, Yosio E. and Duarte, Valdete and Monteagudo Mendoza, Abel and López-González, Gabriela and Baker, Tim R. and Feldpausch, Ted R. and Brienen, Roel J.W. and Asner, Gregory P. and Boyd, Doreen S. and Phillips, Oliver L.
Size and frequency of natural forest disturbances
and the Amazon forest carbon balance.
Nature Communications, 5
Forest inventory studies in the Amazon indicate a large terrestrial carbon sink. However, field plots may fail to represent forest mortality processes at landscape-scales of tropical forests. Here we characterize the frequency distribution of disturbance events in natural forests from 0.01 ha to 2,651 ha size throughout Amazonia using a novel combination of forest inventory, airborne lidar and satellite remote sensing data. We find that small-scale mortality events are responsible for aboveground biomass losses of ~1.28 Pg Cy-1 over the entire Amazon region. We also find that intermediate-scale disturbances account for losses of ~0.01 Pg Cy-1, and that the largest-scale disturbances as a result of blow-downs only account for losses of ~0.003 Pg Cy-1. Simulation of growth and mortality indicates that even when all carbon losses from intermediate and large-scale disturbances are considered, these are outweighed by the net biomass accumulation by tree growth, supporting the inference of an Amazon carbon sink.
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