Diversity enhances carbon storage in tropical forests

Diversity enhances carbon storage in tropical forests


Tropical forests are extremely important due to the ability to sequester large amounts of carbon and provide habitat for high levels of biodiversity, particularly tree species. Still there is limited understanding of the relationship between biodiversity and carbon. This study seeks to study this relationship and examine the forest attributes and environmental drivers for ecosystem functioning.

Goals & Methods

The authors aim to answer two questions: 1) what are the effects of taxonomic and structural attributes on aboveground biomass (AGB) and what is their relative importance? and 2) what are the direct effects of environmental drivers on AGB, and on the taxonomic and structural attributes of the forest? The authors draw on data from 144,000 trees in 2050 forest plots and 59 forest sites. They conducted biomass calculations and examined the structural and taxonomic attributes of these sites. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

Aboveground biomass (AGB) showed strongest relationships with taxonomic attributes (species richness per unit area, Shannon diversity, and rarefied species richness) over small spatial scales. The relationship between AGB and structural attributes (tree density, average tree diameter, stand basal area, and large tree density) was strong at both small and large spatial scales. Species richness has an independent and positive effect on AGB. Areas with high species richness also tend to have high biomass. This means that sites with high carbon storage potential also has high conservation potential and should be managed for both objectives.


Poorter L, van der Sande MT, Thompson J, et al. Diversity enhances carbon storage in tropical forests. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 2015;24(11):1314 - 1328. doi:10.1111/geb.12364.