Very Low Stocks and Inputs of Necromass in Wind-affected Tropical Forests

The relationships between climate and forest dynamics can help us to interpret patterns of ecosystem carbon and to predict how forests react to climatic changes. We report mass dynamics of deadwood (necromass) from tropical forest ecosystems subject to some of the highest frequency of tropical cyclones in the world and to regular, persistent seasonal monsoon winds. Plots that are influenced by typhoons but exposed to different degrees of monsoon winds were monitored. We expected that stocks and inputs of necromass would reflect the seasonal intensity of wind events and be higher in the high wind exposure forest than in the low wind exposure forest, especially for fallen woody debris. The results showed that necromass input was indeed influenced by the magnitude of typhoons and aggravated by monsoon winds. However, while there was no significant difference in stock of necromass between plots, inputs of standing necromass were significantly higher in the high wind exposure plot; these were mostly derived from dead resprouts. Both our forests had very low values of total necromass stocks (3.47–4.32 Mg C ha−1) and inputs (2.1–2.5 Mg C ha−1 y−1) compared with tropical forests worldwide. Our results show that both monsoon and typhoon winds shape these tropical forests, favouring low stature individuals and trees with ability to resprout and that these strategies provide these forests with remarkable resistance and resilience to wind disturbances. Our findings from some of the most wind-affected forests in the world indicate how woody carbon dynamics and forest structure in other regions may respond to future changes in the frequency and intensity of winds.

Kuo-Jung Chao, Pin-Siou Liao, Yi-Sheng Chen, Guo-Zhang Michael Song, Oliver L. Phillips & Hsing-Juh Lin