My colleague Bea Maas kindly presented this year’s contribution “Landscape-scale controls on aboveground forest carbon stocks along environmental gradients on the Osa peninsula, Costa Rica”
Albeit the fact that tropical forests store large amounts of carbon (C) in aboveground tree biomass, the mechanistic controls on forest C stocks remain poorly resolved at the landscape-scale. Here, we aim at unraveling the mechanistic links between environmental controls such as edaphic factors (i.e. geology, soil type, topographic position) and climatic drivers (i.e. temperature, precipitation), and demographic parameters (species composition and vegetation structure).
Our results indicate that by accounting for species diversity and vegetation structure, both associated to environmental gradients and thus shaped by geographic region and forest type, current uncertainty in estimates of tropical aboveground C stocks across the landscape-scale could be greatly reduced. We conclude that resolving spatial patterns of tree species composition and vegetation structure associated with landscape-scale gradients of environmental controls will be crucial to create a mechanistic understanding of how these factors shape the distribution of aboveground C stocks and will be key to more accurately predict the C sequestration potential of tropical forests under scenarios of projected environmental changes.