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Gap formation and carbon cycling in the Brazilian Amazon: measurement using high-resolution optical remote sensing and studies in large forest plots

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Plant Ecology and Diversity
Issue number1-2
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)305-318
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date29/07/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: The dynamics of gaps plays a role in the regimes of tree mortality, production of coarse woody debris (CWD) and the variability of light in the forest understory.

Aims: To quantify the area affected by, and the carbon fluxes associated with, natural gap-phase disturbances in a tropical lowland evergreen rain forest by use of ground measurements and high-resolution satellite images.

Methods: We surveyed two large forest inventory plots of 114 and 53 ha of the Tapajos National Forest (TNF) in the Brazilian Amazon during 2008 and 2009, respectively. We mapped all gaps and collected data on light availability, CWD stocks and tree mortality in the field. Gap location, canopy openness (CO) and leaf area index (LAI) estimated in the field were compared with two IKONOS-2 high-resolution satellite images acquired at approximately the time of the field measurements.

Results: In the two large plots (167 ha total area) we found 96 gaps. The gaps represented 1.42% of the total area and gaps

Conclusions: We present the first statistics of CWD production based on gap size in the tropical forest literature. Tree mortality and CWD flux and the forest floor light environment were closely related to gap area. However, less than 30% of the annual tree mortality and CWD flux was associated with gaps, and gaps were difficult to detect using remote sensing methods because of the high proportion of shadow in the images. These results highlight the need for permanent plots in long-term carbon studies.