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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-336
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
11 Aug 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Biogeosciences (BG) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Sensitivity of woody carbon stocks to bark investment strategy in Neotropical savannas and forests
Anna T. Trugman1,2, David Medvigy1,3, William A. Hoffmann4, and Adam F. A. Pellegrini5 1Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
2Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
3Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
4Department of Plant Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
5Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Abstract. Fire frequencies are changing in Neotropical savannas and forests as a result of forest fragmentation and increasing drought. Such changes in fire regime and climate are hypothesized to decrease the stability of tropical carbon storage, but there has been little consideration of the widespread variability in tree fire tolerance strategies. To test how aboveground carbon stocks change with fire frequency and community composition, we update the ED2 model with (i) a fire survivorship module based on tree bark thickness (a key fire-tolerance trait across woody plants in savannas and forests), and (ii) plant functional types representative of trees in the region. With these updates, the model is better able to predict how fire frequency affects population demography and aboveground woody carbon. Simulations illustrate that the high survival rate of thick-barked, large trees reduces carbon losses with increasing fire frequency, with high investment in bark being particularly important in reducing losses in the wettest sites. Additionally, in landscapes that frequently burn, bark investment can broaden the range of climate and fire conditions under which savannas occur by reducing the range of conditions leading to either complete tree loss or complete grass loss. These results highlight that woody biomass carbon stocks in the tropics depend not only on changing fire frequencies, but also on tree fire survival strategy. Incorporation of a bark investment strategy in vegetation models holds promise for improving predictions of landscape-level carbon dynamics and savanna distribution, particularly in the context of global climate change.

Citation: Trugman, A. T., Medvigy, D., Hoffmann, W. A., and Pellegrini, A. F. A.: Sensitivity of woody carbon stocks to bark investment strategy in Neotropical savannas and forests, Biogeosciences Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-336, in review, 2017.
Anna T. Trugman et al.
Anna T. Trugman et al.
Anna T. Trugman et al.

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Short summary
Tree fire tolerance strategies may significantly impact woody carbon stability and the existence of tropical savannas under global climate change. We used a numerical ecosystem model to test the impacts of fire survival strategy under differing fire and rainfall regimes. We found that the high survival rate of large fire-tolerant trees reduced carbon losses with increasing fire frequency, and reduced the range of conditions leading to either complete tree loss or complete grass loss.
Tree fire tolerance strategies may significantly impact woody carbon stability and the existence...
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