FOREST ECOLOGY

Declining wood in disturbed forest

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Science  16 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6416, pp. 789-790
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6416.789-e

The wood density of forest trees is an indicator of their potential to store carbon. Berenguer et al. compared the wood densities of trees and saplings in disturbed and undisturbed primary and secondary forests in eastern Amazonia. They found that wood density within disturbed forest is not recovering to the predisturbance values, with reductions as great as 33% in secondary forest. Key factors contributing to these reductions are proximity to forest edges, which impedes the recovery of high–wood density tree species, and infestation by lianas (woody vines) in disturbed forest, which also have an inhibitory effect on tree growth. As forests are increasingly disturbed in Amazonia and other tropical areas, their capacity to act as carbon sinks will diminish.

J. Ecol. 106, 2190 (2018).

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