Mountain high Andean forests have high potential to store carbon

Mountain high: Andean forests have high potential to store carbon

The Andes Mountains of South America are the most species-rich biodiversity hotspot for plant and vertebrate species in the world. But the forests climbing this mountain range provide another important service to humanity.

According to new research published in Nature Communications, Andan forests are acting as carbon sinks, which absorb carbon dioxide and help protect the planet, keeping this climate-changing gas out of circulation. .

The study – which is based on data from two decades of 119 forest-monitoring plots in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina – was produced by an international team of scientists, including researchers supported by the Living Earth Cooperation at Washington University in St. Louis . . The lead author was the Alvaro Duke of Universidial National de Colombia sed Medellín.

The study’s co-authors J. Sebastian Tello and a principal investigator for the Living Earth collaboration J. “Based on the information that we have, the Andan forests are a carbon sink, which emits,” said Sebastian Tello. “A synthesis of patterns and mechanisms of diversity and forest change in the Andes: a global biodiversity hotspot.”

Telo, an associate scientist at the center, said, “The amount of carbon that accumulates in the biomass stems in the leaves and leaves of trees is actually increasing over time, possibly increasing carbon dioxide emissions.” For Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Telo leads the Medidi Project, a long-term study that the Missouri Botanical Garden has supported for nearly 20 years, including plant diversity and forest transformation in Bolivia. Twenty-six of the forest plots included in this study belonged to the Medidi Project.

“There are two important research questions about how and why climate change is affecting ecosystem functioning,” said Jonathan Myers, associate professor of biology in arts and sciences at the University of Washington, another co-author of the new study. “Carbon storage is one of the most important ecosystem services that helps mitigate the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels under climate change and temperature warming.

This study highlights how species are impacting broader ecosystem services important to humanity on the move under climate change, ”said Myers.

Carbon is an important building block of life on Earth, but the element contributes to global warming when released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. Living plant tissues such as tree trunk, bark, branches and twigs can act as carbon sinks because they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis.

By locking in carbon, trees in forests around the world play a role in maintaining global climate stability. The study found that some forests play a larger role than others — the Andes chief.

Tropical and subtropical ecosystems are believed to account for about 70% of all carbon sequestered by Earth’s forests. But previous estimates of tropical carbon weathering were largely based on studies of lowland ecosystems such as the Amazon.

This study incorporates data from forest plots with a range of more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) in elevation in the subtropical and tropical Andes. The results indicated that the Andes are similar to other tropical forests in that they are acting as the aforementioned carbon sinks.

However, researchers found that the total relative strength of the Andaman carbon sink exceeded estimates from previous studies conducted in lowland tropical forests in the Amazon, Africa, or Southeast Asia.

Factors such as tree rainfall, temperature, and size-dependent mortality drive the dynamics of carbon storage in Andan forests.

Due to its huge size, the Amazon forest currently accumulates more carbon than the Andean forest. But recent research has suggested that the Amazon may be saturated with carbon in the near future. Under this scenario, continuous purification of carbon in Andean forests would become even more important.

As a neighbor of the relatively well-studied Amazon forest, much is unknown about the Andean forest ecosystem. Challenging mountain terrain makes it difficult for scientists to reach parts of the Andes. It is also difficult to secure funding to support large-scale research projects in many countries.

“This paper collects and integrates a lot of information from various research groups working independently for decades,” Tello said. “This is one of the first major efforts to bring together the scientists monitoring those forests.”

William Farfan-Rios, a resident of Cusco, Peru and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Living Earth Collaboration, knows first-hand how difficult it is to conduct field research in the Andes.

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