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Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests
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Liu XJ, Trogisch S, He JS, Niklaus PA, Bruelheide H, Tang ZY, Erfmeier A, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Pietsch KA, Yang B, Kuhn P, Scholten T, Huang YY, Wang C, Staab M, Leppert KN, Wirth C*, Schmid B*, Ma KP*
PubYear : 2018
Volume : 285  Issue : 
Publication Name : Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Page number : 20181240
Abstract : 

Forest ecosystems are an integral component of the global carbon cycle as they take up and release large amounts of C over short time periods (C flux) or accumulate it over longer time periods (C stock). However, there remains uncertainty about whether and in which direction C fluxes and in particular C stocks may differ between forests of high versus low species richness. Based on a comprehensive dataset derived from field-based measurements, we tested the effect of species richness (3–20 tree species) and stand age (22–116 years) on six compartments of above- and below-ground C stocks and four components of C fluxes in subtropical forests in southeast China. Across forest stands, total C stock was 149 ± 12 Mg ha-1 with richness explaining 28.5% and age explaining 29.4% of variation in this measure. Species-rich stands had higher C stocks and fluxes than stands with low richness; and, in addition, old stands had higher C stocks than young ones. Overall, for each additional tree species, the total C stock increased by 6.4%. Our results provide comprehensive evidence for diversity-mediated above- and below-ground C sequestration in species-rich subtropical forests in southeast China. Therefore, afforestation policies in this region and elsewhere should consider a change from the current focus on monocultures to multi-species plantations to increase C fixation and thus slow increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global warming.

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