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Data from: The importance of crown dimensions to improve tropical tree biomass estimates


Goodman, Rosa C.; Phillips, Oliver L.; Baker, Timothy R. (2013), Data from: The importance of crown dimensions to improve tropical tree biomass estimates, Dryad, Dataset,


Tropical forests play a vital role in the global carbon cycle, but the amount of carbon they contain and its spatial distribution remain uncertain. Recent studies suggest that once tree height is accounted for in biomass calculations, in addition to diameter and wood density, carbon stock estimates are reduced in many areas. However, it is possible that larger crown sizes might offset the reduction in biomass estimates in some forests where tree heights are lower because even comparatively short trees develop large, well-lit crowns in or above the forest canopy. While current allometric models and theory focus on diameter, wood density, and height, the influence of crown size and structure has not been well studied. To test the extent to which accounting for crown parameters can improve biomass estimates, we harvested and weighed 51 trees (11-169 cm diameter) in southwestern Amazonia where no direct biomass measurements have been made. The trees in our study had nearly half of total aboveground biomass in the branches (44 ± 2 %), demonstrating the importance of accounting for tree crowns. Consistent with our predictions, key pantropical equations that include height, but do not account for crown dimensions, underestimated the sum total biomass of all 51 trees by 11 to 14 %, primarily due to severe underestimates of many of the largest trees. In our models, including crown radius greatly improves performance and reduces error, especially for the largest trees. In addition, over the full dataset, crown radius marginally explained more variation in aboveground biomass (10.5 %) than height (6.0 %). Crown form is also important: trees with a monopodial architectural type are estimated to have 21-44 % less mass than trees with other growth patterns. Our analysis suggests that accounting for crown allometry would substantially improve the accuracy of tropical estimates of tree biomass and its distribution in primary and degraded forests.

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