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Above-ground biomass and structure of 260 African tropical forests

Lewis, S. L. and Sonke, B. and Sunderland, T. and Begne, S. K. and Lopez-Gonzalez, G. and van der Heijden, G. M. F. and Phillips, O. L. and Affum-Baffoe, K. and Baker, T. R. and Banin, L. and Bastin, J.-F. and Beeckman, H. and Boeckx, P. and Bogaert, J. and De Canniere, C. and Chezeaux, E. and Clark, C. J. and Collins, Murray and Djagbletey, G. and Djuikouo, M. N. K. and Droissart, V. and Doucet, J.-L. and Ewango, C. E. N. and Fauset, S. and Feldpausch, T. R. and Foli, E. G. and Gillet, J.-F. and Hamilton, A. C. and Harris, D. J. and Hart, T. B. and de Haulleville, T. and Hladik, A. and Hufkens, K. and Huygens, D. and Jeanmart, P. and Jeffery, K. J. and Kearsley, E. and Leal, M. E. and Lloyd, J. and Lovett, J. C. and Makana, J.-R. and Malhi, Y. and Marshall, A. R. and Ojo, L. and Peh, K. S.- H. and Pickavance, G. and Poulsen, J. R. and Reitsma, J. M. and Sheil, D. and Simo, M. and Steppe, K. and Taedoumg, H. E. and Talbot, J. and Taplin, J. R. D. and Taylor, D. and Thomas, S. C. and Toirambe, B. and Verbeeck, H. and Vleminckx, J. and White, L. J. T. and Willcock, S. and Woell, H. and Zemagho, L. (2013) Above-ground biomass and structure of 260 African tropical forests. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368 (1625). ISSN 0962-8436

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Identification Number: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0295


We report above-ground biomass (AGB), basal area, stem density and wood mass density estimates from 260 sample plots (mean size: 1.2 ha) in intact closed-canopy tropical forests across 12 African countries. Mean AGB is 395.7 Mg dry mass ha-1 (95% CI: 14.3), substantially higher than Amazonian values, with the Congo Basin and contiguous forest region attaining AGB values (429 Mg ha-1) similar to those of Bornean forests, and significantly greater than East or West African forests. AGB therefore appears generally higher in palaeo- compared with neotropical forests. However, mean stem density is low(426±11 stems ha-1 greater than or equal to 100 mm diameter) compared with both Amazonian and Bornean forests (cf. approx. 600) and is the signature structural feature of African tropical forests. While spatial autocorrelation complicates analyses, AGB shows a positive relationship with rainfall in the driest nine months of the year, and an opposite association with the wettest three months of the year; a negative relationship with temperature; positive relationship with clay-rich soils; and negative relationships with C:Nratio (suggesting a positive soil phosphorus- AGB relationship), and soil fertility computed as the sum of base cations. The results indicate that AGB is mediated by both climate and soils, and suggest that the AGB of African closed-canopy tropical forests may be particularly sensitive to future precipitation and temperature changes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Authors
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Sets: Research centres and groups > Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2013 11:55
Last Modified: 04 May 2017 14:23
Funders: United States Agency for International Development / Centre for International Forestry Research, GEOCarbon, European Research Council, National Environment Research Council, David Foundation, Lucile Packard Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, Missouri Botanical Garden, Royal Society Joint Project, Royal Society University Research Fellowship, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, University of Leeds, European Research Council and the Royal Society, African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network

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