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Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 25;7:11351. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11351.

Contrasting effects of defaunation on aboveground carbon storage across the global tropics.

Author information

1
National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, GKVK Campus, Bellary Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560 065, India.
2
Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, IV Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore, Karnataka 570 002, India.
3
Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27705, USA.
4
La Selva Biological Station, Organization for Tropical Studies, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Heredia, Costa Rica.
5
CSIRO Land and Water, Tropical Forest Research Centre, PO Box 780, Atherton, Queensland 4883, Australia.
6
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Kepong, Selangor Darul Ehsan 52109, Malaysia.
7
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Congo-Program, Brazzaville B.P. 14537, Republic of Congo.
8
Centre for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Panamá, Republic of Panama.
9
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
10
Department of Botany, CTFS-ForestGEO, NMNH - MRC 166, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, District Of Columbia 20013-7012, USA.
11
Environment Department, CIRCLE, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK.
12
Flamingo Land Ltd., Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire YO17 6UX, UK.
13
Institut Français de Pondichéry, 11, Saint Louis Street, Pondicherry 605 001, India.
14
MUSE - Science Museum of Trento, Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, 38122 Trento, Italy.
15
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.

Abstract

Defaunation is causing declines of large-seeded animal-dispersed trees in tropical forests worldwide, but whether and how these declines will affect carbon storage across this biome is unclear. Here we show, using a pan-tropical data set, that simulated declines of large-seeded animal-dispersed trees have contrasting effects on aboveground carbon stocks across Earth's tropical forests. In our simulations, African, American and South Asian forests, which have high proportions of animal-dispersed species, consistently show carbon losses (2-12%), but Southeast Asian and Australian forests, where there are more abiotically dispersed species, show little to no carbon losses or marginal gains (±1%). These patterns result primarily from changes in wood volume, and are underlain by consistent relationships in our empirical data (∼2,100 species), wherein, large-seeded animal-dispersed species are larger as adults than small-seeded animal-dispersed species, but are smaller than abiotically dispersed species. Thus, floristic differences and distinct dispersal mode-seed size-adult size combinations can drive contrasting regional responses to defaunation.

PMID:
27108957
PMCID:
PMC4848488
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms11351
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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