, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 115-131

Respiration from coarse wood litter in central Amazon forests

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Abstract

Respiration from coarse litter (trunks and large branches >10 cm diameter) was studied in central Amazon forests. Respiration ratesvaried over almost two orders of magnitude (1.003–0.014 µg Cg−1 C min−1, n = 61), and weresignificantly correlated with wood density (r2 adj= 0.42), and moisture content (r2 adj= 0.39). Additional samples taken from a nearby pasture indicatedthat wood moisture content was the most important factor controllingrespiration rates across sites (r2 adj =0.65). Based on average coarse litter wood density and moisture content,the mean long-term carbon loss rate due to respiration was estimated tobe 0.13 yr−1 (range of 95% prediction interval(PI) = 0.11–0.15 yr−1). Comparing meanrespiration rate with mean mass loss (decomposition) rate from aprevious study, respiratory emissions to the atmosphere from coarselitter were predicted to be 76% (95% PI =65–88%) of total carbon loss, or about 1.9 (95% PI= 1.6–2.2) Mg C ha−1yr−1. Optimum respiration activity corresponded toabout 2.5 g H2O g−1 dry wood, and severelyrestricted respiration to < 0.5 g H2O g−1dry wood. Respiration from coarse litter in central Amazon forests iscomparable in magnitude to decomposing fine surface litter (e.g. leaves,twigs) and is an important carbon cycling component when characterizingheterotrophic respiration budgets and net ecosystem exchange(NEE).