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Large aboveground biomass loss and increased dead organic matter in seasonal tropical forests


Article title

Effects of large aboveground biomass loss events on the deadwood and litter mass dynamics of seasonal tropical forests in Cambodia

Author (affiliation)

Yoshiyuki Kiyono (a), Erio Ito (b), Yukako Monda (c), Jumpei Toriyama (d), Thy Sum (e)

(a) Department of Plant Ecology, FFPRI, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
(b) Hokkaido Research Center, FFPRI, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

(c) Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

(d) Kyushu Research Center, FFPRI, Kumamoto, Japan.

(e) Ministry of Environment, Samdach Preah Sihanouk Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Publication Journal

TROPICS, 27(2):33-48, September 2018, DOI:10.3759/tropics.MS18-05( External link )

Content introduction

Dead organic matter (DOM) is a term for the remains of organisms, which includes deadwood (DW; in standing dead trees, on the ground, and in stumps) and litter (LT). DOM is a part of forest components and plays an important role in the circulation of matter1.There are few studies and scarce DOM data on the effects of large aboveground biomass (AGB) loss events owing to selective logging (Figure 1) in natural tropical forests, particularly in Indochina.

We monitored DW and LT masses in 22 permanent sample plots of seasonal tropical forests2 in Cambodia for 10 years. We found that large AGB loss events (Figure 2), likely caused by logging, produced dead stumps and branches, in addition to causing other trees to die, thereby increasing the total DW mass. However, such AGB loss events did not necessarily affect the LT mass. The seasonal forests in Cambodia are characterized by a relatively low DW mass compared with those in America and Africa. The low DW mass is most probably owing to the removal of DW and dying trees from the forests by local residents for fuel purposes (Figure 1).

Scientific evaluations regarding the effects of large AGB loss events on DW performed in this study will be useful for promoting sustainable forest management and REDD+3 in the seasonal tropical forests of Indochina.


1 Circulation of matter: A concept stating that matter is constantly cycled in different parts of the environment. Circulation of matter can be expressed as elemental levels, such as carbon and nitrogen cycles, and as chemical compound levels, such as water cycles.

2 Seasonal tropical forest: A tropical forest that has a definite dry season. The forest includes tree species that loss a considerable amount of leaves during the dry season.

3 REDD+: Land use changes, such as deforestation and forest degradation, lead to greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, from the forests to the environment. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is a worldwide project to reduce greenhouse gases in developing countries through enhanced forest management, while producing economic benefits. The United Nations is leading the project and establishing the rules.

Figure 1 (Left) Figure 1(Right)
Figure 1 (Left) Example of selective logging. (Right) DW collected by a local resident for fuel. DW, deadwood.


Figure 2 Changes in the size distribution of DW

Figure 2 Changes in the size distribution of DW components before and after large AGB loss events. DW, deadwood; AGB, aboveground biomass.