Spatial variability and controls over biomass stocks, carbon fluxes, and resource-use efficiencies across forest ecosystems

Fernandez-Martinez M., Vicca S., Janssens I.A., Luyssaert S., Campioli M., Sardans J., Estiarte M., Penuelas J. (2014) Spatial variability and controls over biomass stocks, carbon fluxes, and resource-use efficiencies across forest ecosystems. Trees - Structure and Function. 28: 597-611.
Link
Doi: 10.1007/s00468-013-0975-9

Abstract:

Key message: Stand age, water availability, and the length of the warm period are the most influencing controls of forest structure, functioning, and efficiency. We aimed to discern the distribution and controls of plant biomass, carbon fluxes, and resource-use efficiencies of forest ecosystems ranging from boreal to tropical forests. We analysed a global forest database containing estimates of stand biomass and carbon fluxes (400 and 111 sites, respectively) from which we calculated resource-use efficiencies (biomass production, carbon sequestration, light, and water-use efficiencies). We used the WorldClim climatic database and remote-sensing data derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to analyse climatic controls of ecosystem functioning. The influences of forest type, stand age, management, and nitrogen deposition were also explored. Tropical forests exhibited the largest gross carbon fluxes (photosynthesis and ecosystem respiration), but rather low net ecosystem production, which peaks in temperate forests. Stand age, water availability, and length of the warm period were the main factors controlling forest structure (biomass) and functionality (carbon fluxes and efficiencies). The interaction between temperature and precipitation was the main climatic driver of gross primary production and ecosystem respiration. The mean resource-use efficiency varied little among biomes. The spatial variability of biomass stocks and their distribution among ecosystem compartments were strongly correlated with the variability in carbon fluxes, and both were strongly controlled by climate (water availability, temperature) and stand characteristics (age, type of leaf). Gross primary production and ecosystem respiration were strongly correlated with mean annual temperature and precipitation only when precipitation and temperature were not limiting factors. Finally, our results suggest a global convergence in mean resource-use efficiencies. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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Nutrient availability as the key regulator of global forest carbon balance

Fernandez-Martinez M., Vicca S., Janssens I.A., Sardans J., Luyssaert S., Campioli M., Chapin Iii F.S., Ciais P., Malhi Y., Obersteiner M., Papale D., Piao S.L., Reichstein M., Roda F., Penuelas J. (2014) Nutrient availability as the key regulator of global forest carbon balance. Nature Climate Change. 4: 471-476.
Link
Doi: 10.1038/nclimate2177

Abstract:

Forests strongly affect climate through the exchange of large amounts of atmospheric CO 2 (ref.). The main drivers of spatial variability in net ecosystem production (NEP) on a global scale are, however, poorly known. As increasing nutrient availability increases the production of biomass per unit of photosynthesis and reduces heterotrophic respiration in forests, we expected nutrients to determine carbon sequestration in forests. Our synthesis study of 92 forests in different climate zones revealed that nutrient availability indeed plays a crucial role in determining NEP and ecosystem carbon-use efficiency (CUEe; that is, the ratio of NEP to gross primary production (GPP)). Forests with high GPP exhibited high NEP only in nutrient-rich forests (CUEe = 33 ± 4%; mean ± s.e.m.). In nutrient-poor forests, a much larger proportion of GPP was released through ecosystem respiration, resulting in lower CUEe (6 ± 4%). Our finding that nutrient availability exerts a stronger control on NEP than on carbon input (GPP) conflicts with assumptions of nearly all global coupled carbon cycle-climate models, which assume that carbon inputs through photosynthesis drive biomass production and carbon sequestration. An improved global understanding of nutrient availability would therefore greatly improve carbon cycle modelling and should become a critical focus for future research. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

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