Carbon and biodiversity relationships in tropical forests

Author: Talbot, J.D.
Date Published: October 2010

This paper provides an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding relationships between carbon and biodiversity in tropical forests.

• At a global scale, tropical forests provide some of the highest levels of biomass carbon storage, productivity and biodiversity.

• Within tropical forests, spatial patterns of carbon dynamics and biodiversity are complex, with limited correlations between these variables.

• There are a number of environmental and historical factors that may have caused the observed variations in carbon dynamics and biodiversity across the tropics.

• The degree to which direct causal relationships exist between carbon dynamics and biodiversity in tropical forests is still uncertain, although experimental work in other ecosystems has shown that biodiversity often promotes productivity and stability.

• Areas of ongoing uncertainty include: the temporal variability of ecosystem processes and their response to environmental change; the importance of interactions between species, and the quantification of carbon stocks and fluxes in tropical soils and below-ground biomass.