Biogeosciences Discuss., 7, 7727-7793, 2010
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in BG.
Height-diameter allometry of tropical forest trees
T. R. Feldpausch1,*, L. Banin1,*, O. L. Phillips1, T. R. Baker1, S. L. Lewis1, C. A. Quesada1,2, K. Affum-Baffoe3, E. J. M. M. Arets4, N. J. Berry1,**, M. Bird5,***, E. S. Brondizio6, P. de Camargo7, J. Chave8, G. Djagbletey9, T. F. Domingues10, M. Drescher11, P. M. Fearnside2, M. B. França2, N. M. Fyllas1, G. Lopez-Gonzalez1, A. Hladik12, N. Higuchi2, M. O. Hunter13, Y. Iida14, K. Abu Silam15, A. R. Kassim16, M. Keller13,17, J. Kemp18, D. A. King19, J. C. Lovett20, B. S. Marimon21, B. H. Marimon-Junior21, E. Lenza21, A. R. Marshall22, D. J. Metcalfe23, E. T. A. Mitchard10, E. F. Moran6, B. W. Nelson2, R. Nilus24, E. M. Nogueira2, M. Palace13, S. Patiño25, K. S.-H. Peh1,****, M. T. Raventos5, J. M. Reitsma26, G. Saiz5,***, F. Schrodt1, B. Sonké27, H. E. Taedoumg27, S. Tan28, L. White29,*****, H. Wöll30, and J. Lloyd1,31
1Earth and Biosphere Institute, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
2Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil
3Forestry Commission of Ghana, P.O. Box 1457, Kumasi, Ghana
4Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
5School of Earth and Environmental Science, James Cook University, P.O. Box 6811, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia
6Department of Anthropology and the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
7Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Av. Centenãrio, 303 CEP: 13400-970, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil
8Universite Paul Sabatier/CNRS, Laboratoire EDB UMR 5174, batiment 4R3, 31062 Toulouse, France
9Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Kumasi, Ghana
10School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond St, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, UK
11School of Planning, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
12Eco-anthropologie et Ethnobiologie, Département Hommes, Natures, Sociétés, MNHN, 4, avenue du Petit Château 91800 Brunoy, France
13Complex Systems Research Center, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, 03824, USA
14Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0810, Japan
15Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Biology Department, Jalan Tungku Link, BE1410, Brunei Darussalam
16Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), 52109 Kepong, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
17Int. Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico
18Queensland Herbarium, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Townsville QLD 4810, Australia
19Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331 USA
20CSTM –Twente Centre for Studies in Technology and Sustainable Development University of Twente; Postbus 217; 7500 AE; Enschede, The Netherlands
21Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Caixa Postal 08, CEP 78690-000, Nova Xavantina, MT, Brazil
22Environment Department, University of York, UK, Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire, UK
23CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research Centre, Atherton, QLD 4883, Australia
24Forest Research Centre, Sabah Forestry Department, Sandakan, 90715, Malaysia
25Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Amazonia, Km 2 vía Tarapacá, Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia
26Bureau Waardenburg bv, P.O. Box 365, 4100 AJ Culemborg, The Netherlands
27Plant Systematic and Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Higher Teachers Training College, University of Yaounde I, P.O. Box 047 Yaounde Cameroon
28Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
29Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale (IRET), BP 7847, Libreville, Gabon
30Sommersbergseestr. 291, 8990 Bad Aussee, Austria
31School of Geography, Planning and Environ. Management, Univ. of Queensland, Australia
*TRF and LB contributed jointly to this work
**now at: Ecometrica, Unit 3B Kittle Yards, Edinburgh, EH9 1PJ, UK
***now at: School of Geography and Geosciences, Univ. of St. Andrews, KY16 9AL, UK
****now at: Dept. of Zoology, Univ. of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
*****now at: Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, Présidence de la République, République Gabonaise, Gabon

Abstract. Tropical tree height-diameter (H:D) relationships may vary by forest type and region making large-scale estimates of above-ground biomass subject to bias if they ignore these differences in stem allometry. We have therefore developed a new global tropical forest database consisting of 39 955 concurrent H and D measurements encompassing 283 sites in 22 tropical countries. Utilising this database, our objectives were:

  1. to determine if H:D relationships differ by geographic region and forest type (wet to dry forests, including zones of tension where forest and savanna overlap).

  2. to ascertain if the H:D relationship is modulated by climate and/or forest structural characteristics (e.g. stand-level basal area, A).

  3. to develop H:D allometric equations and evaluate biases to reduce error in future local-to-global estimates of tropical forest biomass.

Annual precipitation coefficient of variation (PV), dry season length (SD), and mean annual air temperature (TA) emerged as key drivers of variation in H:D relationships at the pantropical and region scales. Vegetation structure also played a role with trees in forests of a high A being, on average, taller at any given D. After the effects of environment and forest structure are taken into account, two main regional groups can be identified. Forests in Asia, Africa and the Guyana Shield all have, on average, similar H:D relationships, but with trees in the forests of much of the Amazon Basin and tropical Australia typically being shorter at any given D than their counterparts elsewhere.

The region-environment-structure model with the lowest Akaike's information criterion and lowest deviation estimated stand-level H across all plots to within a median –2.7 to 0.9% of the true value. Some of the plot-to-plot variability in H:D relationships not accounted for by this model could be attributed to variations in soil physical conditions. Other things being equal, trees tend to be more slender in the absence of soil physical constraints, especially at smaller D. Pantropical and continental-level models provided only poor estimates of H, especially when the roles of climate and stand structure in modulating H:D allometry were not simultaneously taken into account.

Citation: Feldpausch, T. R., Banin, L., Phillips, O. L., Baker, T. R., Lewis, S. L., Quesada, C. A., Affum-Baffoe, K., Arets, E. J. M. M., Berry, N. J., Bird, M., Brondizio, E. S., de Camargo, P., Chave, J., Djagbletey, G., Domingues, T. F., Drescher, M., Fearnside, P. M., França, M. B., Fyllas, N. M., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Hladik, A., Higuchi, N., Hunter, M. O., Iida, Y., Abu Silam, K., Kassim, A. R., Keller, M., Kemp, J., King, D. A., Lovett, J. C., Marimon, B. S., Marimon-Junior, B. H., Lenza, E., Marshall, A. R., Metcalfe, D. J., Mitchard, E. T. A., Moran, E. F., Nelson, B. W., Nilus, R., Nogueira, E. M., Palace, M., Patiño, S., Peh, K. S.-H., Raventos, M. T., Reitsma, J. M., Saiz, G., Schrodt, F., Sonké, B., Taedoumg, H. E., Tan, S., White, L., Wöll, H., and Lloyd, J.: Height-diameter allometry of tropical forest trees, Biogeosciences Discuss., 7, 7727-7793, doi:10.5194/bgd-7-7727-2010, 2010.
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