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Associations of plant functional diversity with carbon accumulation in a temperate forest ecosystem in the Indian Himalayas

Rawat, Monika, Arunachalam, Kusum, Arunachalam, Ayyandar, Alatalo, Juha, Pandey, Rajiv
Ecological indicators 2019 v.98 pp. 861-868
biomass production, carbon, carbon sequestration, carbon sinks, climate, dry matter content, environmental indicators, forest ecosystems, functional diversity, leaf area, leaves, nitrogen content, phosphorus content, soil, temperate forests, tree height, trees, wood density, Himalayan region
Carbon accumulation is the capacity of the forest to store carbon in trees, litter and soil, together contributing to climate regulation. Plants differ in their potential to capture, store and release carbon. Consequently, it is important to develop a trait-based relationship between plant functional diversity and carbon stocks. Here, we studied seven primary plant traits (tree height, wood density (WD), leaf area (LA), specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf nitrogen content (LNC) and leaf phosphorus content (LPC)) of 10 dominant tree species and their relationship with carbon stocks in a temperate forest ecosystem. We found that both stem and leaf traits were significant predictors of carbon storage. Among the traits studied, community-weighted mean (CWM) of tree height, SLA and LPC and functional divergence (FDvar) of tree height, LNC, and LDMC were the most important components determining carbon accumulation in the temperate forest. These results suggest that CWM and FDvar are significant in understanding the role of plant traits in carbon storage. The results also suggest that the mass ratio and niche complementarity hypotheses are not mutually exclusive, but rather act simultaneously in biomass accumulation, i.e. carbon capture, in temperate forest ecosystems.