Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 8, 1081–1106, 2011
Biogeosciences, 8, 1081–1106, 2011

Research article 05 May 2011

Research article | 05 May 2011

Height-diameter allometry of tropical forest trees

T. R. Feldpausch*,1, L. Banin*,1, O. L. Phillips1, T. R. Baker1, S. L. Lewis1, C. A. Quesada2,1, K. Affum-Baffoe3, E. J. M. M. Arets4,5, N. J. Berry1, M. Bird6,***, E. S. Brondizio7, P. de Camargo8, J. Chave9, G. Djagbletey10, T. F. Domingues11,****, M. Drescher5,12, P. M. Fearnside2, M. B. França2, N. M. Fyllas1, G. Lopez-Gonzalez1, A. Hladik13, N. Higuchi2, M. O. Hunter14, Y. Iida15, K. A. Salim16, A. R. Kassim17, M. Keller14,18, J. Kemp19, D. A. King20, J. C. Lovett21, B. S. Marimon22, B. H. Marimon-Junior22, E. Lenza22, A. R. Marshall23, D. J. Metcalfe24, E. T. A. Mitchard11, E. F. Moran7, B. W. Nelson2, R. Nilus25, E. M. Nogueira2, M. Palace14, S. Patiño26,1, K. S.-H. Peh1,*****, M. T. Raventos***, J. M. Reitsma27, G. Saiz6,***, F. Schrodt1, B. Sonké28, H. E. Taedoumg28, S. Tan29, L. White30,******, H. Wöll31, and J. Lloyd1,*** T. R. Feldpausch et al.
  • 1Earth and Biosphere Institute, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 2Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA), Manaus, Brazil
  • 3Forestry Commission of Ghana, P.O. Box 1457, Kumasi, Ghana
  • 4Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Alterra, Wageningen Univ. and Research Centre, 6700 AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 5Programa de Manejo de Bosques de la Amazonia Boliviana (PROMAB), P.O. Box 107, Riberalta, Bolivia
  • 6School of Geography and Geosciences, Univ. of St. Andrews, KY16 9AL, UK
  • 7Department of Anthropology and the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
  • 8Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Av. Centenãrio, 303 CEP: 13400-970, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 9Universite Paul Sabatier/CNRS, Laboratoire EDB UMR 5174, batiment 4R3, 31062 Toulouse, France
  • 10Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Kumasi, Ghana
  • 11School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond St, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, UK
  • 12School of Planning, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
  • 13Eco-anthropologie et Ethnobiologie, D'epartement Hommes, Natures, Soci'et'es, MNHN, 4, avenue du Petit Château 91800 Brunoy, France
  • 14Complex Systems Research Center, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, 03824, USA
  • 15Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0810, Japan
  • 16Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Biology Department, Jalan Tungku Link, BE1410, Brunei Darussalam
  • 17Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), 52109 Kepong, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
  • 18Int. Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico
  • 19Queensland Herbarium, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Townsville QLD 4810, Australia
  • 20Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 21CSTM – Twente Centre for Studies in Technology and Sustainable Development, University of Twente, Postbus 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, The Netherlands
  • 22Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Caixa Postal 08, CEP 78690-000, Nova Xavantina, MT, Brazil
  • 23CIRCLE, Environment Department, University of York, UK, and Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire, UK
  • 24CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research Centre, Atherton, QLD 4883, Australia
  • 25Forest Research Centre, Sabah Forestry Department, Sandakan, 90715, Malaysia
  • 26Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Amazonia, Km 2 vía Tarapacá, Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia
  • 27Bureau Waardenburg bv, P.O. Box 365, 4100 AJ Culemborg, The Netherlands
  • 28Plant Systematic and Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Higher Teachers Training College, University of Yaounde I, P.O. Box 047 Yaounde Cameroon
  • 29Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
  • 30Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale (IRET), BP 7847, Libreville, Gabon
  • 31Sommersbergseestr. 291, 8990 Bad Aussee, Austria
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • **now at: Ecometrica, Unit 3B Kittle Yards, Edinburgh, EH9 1PJ, UK
  • ***now at: School of Earth and Environmental Science, James Cook University, P.O. Box 6811, Cairns,QLD 4870, Australia
  • ****now at: Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas – Universidade de São Paulo, 05508-090, Brasil
  • *****now at: Dept. of Zoology, Univ. of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK
  • ******now at: Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, Présidence de la République, République Gabonaise, Gabon

Abstract. Tropical tree height-diameter (H:D) relationships may vary by forest type and region making large-scale estimates of above-ground biomass subject to bias if they ignore these differences in stem allometry. We have therefore developed a new global tropical forest database consisting of 39 955 concurrent H and D measurements encompassing 283 sites in 22 tropical countries. Utilising this database, our objectives were:

1. to determine if H:D relationships differ by geographic region and forest type (wet to dry forests, including zones of tension where forest and savanna overlap).

2. to ascertain if the H:D relationship is modulated by climate and/or forest structural characteristics (e.g. stand-level basal area, A).

3. to develop H:D allometric equations and evaluate biases to reduce error in future local-to-global estimates of tropical forest biomass.

Annual precipitation coefficient of variation (PV), dry season length (SD), and mean annual air temperature (TA) emerged as key drivers of variation in H:D relationships at the pantropical and region scales. Vegetation structure also played a role with trees in forests of a high A being, on average, taller at any given D. After the effects of environment and forest structure are taken into account, two main regional groups can be identified. Forests in Asia, Africa and the Guyana Shield all have, on average, similar H:D relationships, but with trees in the forests of much of the Amazon Basin and tropical Australia typically being shorter at any given D than their counterparts elsewhere. The region-environment-structure model with the lowest Akaike's information criterion and lowest deviation estimated stand-level H across all plots to within amedian −2.7 to 0.9% of the true value. Some of the plot-to-plot variability in H:D relationships not accounted for by this model could be attributed to variations in soil physical conditions. Other things being equal, trees tend to be more slender in the absence of soil physical constraints, especially at smaller D. Pantropical and continental-level models provided less robust estimates of H, especially when the roles of climate and stand structure in modulating H:D allometry were not simultaneously taken into account.

Final-revised paper