Aim Tropical forests have been recognized as important global carbon sinks and sources. However, many uncertainties about the spatial distribution of live tree above‐ground biomass (AGB) remain, mostly due to limited availability of AGB field data. Recent studies in the Amazon have already shown the importance of large sample size for accurate AGB gradient analysis. Here we use a large stem density, basal area, community wood density and AGB dataset to study and explain their spatial patterns in an Asian tropical forest.
Location Borneo, Southeast Asia.
Methods We combined stem density, basal area, community wood density and AGB data from 83 locations in Borneo with an environmental database containing elevation, climate and soil variables. The Akaike information criterion was used to select models and environmental variables that best explained the observed values of stem density, basal area, community wood density and AGB. These models were used to extrapolate these parameters across Borneo.
Results We found that wood density, stem density, basal area and AGB respond significantly, but differentially, to the environment. AGB was only correlated with basal area, but not with stem density and community wood specific gravity.
Main conclusions Unlike results from Amazonian forests, soil fertility was an important positive correlate for AGB in Borneo while community wood density, which is a main driver of AGB in the Neotropics, did not correlate with AGB in Borneo. Also, Borneo's average AGB of 457.1 Mg ha−1 was c. 60% higher than the Amazonian average of 288.6 Mg ha−1. We find evidence that this difference might be partly explained by the high density of large wind‐dispersed Dipterocarpaceae in Borneo, which need to be tall and emergent to disperse their seeds. Our results emphasize the importance of Bornean forests as carbon sinks and sources due to their high carbon storage capacity.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.