Topographic and biotic regulation of aboveground carbon storage in subtropical broad-leaved forests of Taiwan
There is a growing need to understand, and ultimately manage, carbon storage by forest ecosystems. Broad-leaved evergreen forests of Taiwan provide an outstanding opportunity to examine factors that regulate ecosystem carbon storage. We utilized data from three Taiwan Forest Dynamics Plots (FS, LHC, and PTY) in which every tree is identified, measured, tagged and mapped, to examine factors regulating carbon storage as estimated from aboveground biomass. Allometric equations were used to estimate the aboveground biomass of each tree, and a model building procedure was used to examine relationships between plot-level aboveground biomass (AGB; Mg/ha) and a suite of topographic and biotic factors. We found that our study sites have AGB values comparable to some of the most carbon dense forests in the world. Across all three sites, maximum biomass was contained in the taxonomic families Fagaceae, Lauraceae and Theaceae. In the FS site, we identified slope convexity (P = 0.03) and elevation (P < 0.001) as topographic predictors of AGB and found that maximum AGB was found in topographically flat areas. In FS, stem density (P < 0.001) was a significant biotic predictor of AGB and the maxima occurred at intermediate densities. In LHC, we found that convexity (P < 0.001) and slope (P < 0.001) were significantly related to AGB which was maximized along a topographic ridge in the plot. Species richness (P < 0.001) was a significant biotic predictor of AGB in LHC, and the relationship indicated slightly higher AGB at higher levels of species richness. The only significant factor related to AGB in PTY was species richness (P = 0.02). Further work is needed to seek a mechanistic understanding of topographic factors and species richness as drivers of carbon storage in forests.