Forest structural parameters and aboveground biomass in old-growth and secondary forests along an elevational gradient in Mexico

keywords: Conservation, forest fragmentation, forest structure, landscape, Neotropics, succession

Abstract

Background: Tropical montane forests are important reservoirs of carbon and biodiversity but are threatened by deforestation and climate change. It is important to understand how forest structure and aboveground biomass change along gradients of elevation and succession.

Questions: What are the interactive effect of elevation and two stages of succession on forest structure parameters?

Studied species: Tree communities.

Study site and dates: Cofre de Perote, Veracruz, Mexico. August to December 2015.

Methods: We studied four sites along an elevational gradient (500, 1,500, 2,500, and 3,500 m). At each elevation and each forest type, we established five 20 × 20 m plots (n = 40 plots). Within each plot, we measured stem density, mean diameter at breast height (dbh), and tree height and derived basal area and aboveground biomass (AGB).

Results: AGB peaked at 2,500 m and was significantly related to elevation and succession, with higher values in old-growth forests than in secondary forests at higher altitudes. Lower values of mean dbh and basal area were found at higher elevations. At the lowest elevation, both successional stages had the same values of stem density and AGB. At both lower elevations, secondary forests had higher values of dbh and basal area. There were high biomass stocks in the old-growth forest at 2,500 and 3,500 m.

Conclusions: Old-growth forests at higher elevations are threatened by deforestation, consequently these remaining fragments must be preserved because of their storage capacity for biomass and their ability to mitigate climate change.

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Forest structural parameters and aboveground biomass in old-growth and secondary forests along an elevational gradient in Mexico

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Published
2021-10-27
How to Cite
Alrutz, M., Gómez Díaz, J. A., Schneidewind, U., Krömer, T., & Kreft, H. (2021). Forest structural parameters and aboveground biomass in old-growth and secondary forests along an elevational gradient in Mexico. Botanical Sciences, 100(1), 67-85. https://doi.org/10.17129/botsci.2855
Section
ECOLOGY / ECOLOGÍA