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Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change$
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Yadvinder Malhi and Oliver Phillips

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567066.001.0001

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Tropical forests dynamics in response to a CO2-rich atmosphere

Tropical forests dynamics in response to a CO2-rich atmosphere

(p.67) CHAPTER 6 Tropical forests dynamics in response to a CO2-rich atmosphere
Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change

Christian Körner

Oxford University Press

The fixation and storage of carbon by tropical forests, which contain close to half of the globe's biomass carbon, may be affected by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration. Classical theoretical approaches assume a uniform stimulation of photosynthesis and growth across taxa. Direct assessments of the carbon balance either by flux studies or by repeated forest inventories also suggest a current net uptake, although magnitudes sometimes exceed those missing in the global C-balance. Reasons for such discrepancies may lie in the nature of forest dynamics and in differential responses of taxa or plant functional types. This contribution argues that CO2 enrichment may cause forests to become more dynamic and that faster tree turnover may convert a stimulatory effect of elevated CO2 on photosynthesis and growth into a long-term net biomass carbon loss by favouring shorter lived trees of lower wood density. At the very least, this is a scenario which deserves inclusion into long-term projections in the carbon relations of tropical forests. Species and plant functional type specific responses (‘biodiversity effects’) and forest dynamics need to be accounted for in projections of future carbon-storage in tropical forests.

Keywords:   carbon sequestration, forest dynamics, tropical forests, biodiversity, carbon dioxide, lianas, global C-balance

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