Oecologia

, Volume 137, Issue 3, pp 405–416 | Cite as

Carbon balance of a tropical savanna of northern Australia

Ecosystem Ecology

Abstract

Through estimations of above- and below-ground standing biomass, annual biomass increment, fine root production and turnover, litterfall, canopy respiration and total soil CO2 efflux, a carbon balance on seasonal and yearly time-scales is developed for a Eucalypt open-forest savanna in northern Australia. This carbon balance is compared to estimates of carbon fluxes derived from eddy covariance measurements conducted at the same site. The total carbon (C) stock of the savanna was 204±53 ton C ha−1, with approximately 84% below-ground and 16% above-ground. Soil organic carbon content (0−1 m) was 151±33 ton C ha−1, accounting for about 74% of the total carbon content in the ecosystem. Vegetation biomass was 53±20 ton C ha−1, 39% of which was found in the root component and 61% in above-ground components (trees, shrubs, grasses). Annual gross primary production was 20.8 ton C ha−1, of which 27% occurred in above-ground components and 73% below-ground components. Net primary production was 11 ton C ha−1 year−1, of which 8.0 ton C ha−1 (73%) was contributed by below-ground net primary production and 3.0 ton C ha−1 (27%) by above-ground net primary production. Annual soil carbon efflux was 14.3 ton C ha−1 year−1. Approximately three-quarters of the carbon flux (above-ground, below-ground and total ecosystem) occur during the 5–6 months of the wet season. This savanna site is a carbon sink during the wet season, but becomes a weak source during the dry season. Annual net ecosystem production was 3.8 ton C ha−1 year−1.

Keywords

CO2 Carbon cycling Wet-dry tropics Carbon source-sink relationships Net ecosystem production 

References

  1. AGO-NGGIC (2000) National greenhouse gas inventory 1998. Australian Greenhouse Office, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen AN, Lonsdale WM (1990) Herbivory by insects in Australian tropical savannas: a review. J Biogeogr 17:433–444Google Scholar
  3. Andreae MO, Fishman J, Lindesay J (1996) The Southern Tropical Atlantic Region Experiment (STARE): Transport and Atmospheric Chemistry near the Equator-Atlantic (TRACE A) and Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative (SAFARI): an introduction. J Geophys Res 101:23519Google Scholar
  4. Attiwill PM (1979) Nutrient cycling in a Eucalypts obliqua (L'Herit) forest. III. Growth, biomass and net production. Aust J Bot 27:439–458Google Scholar
  5. Beringer J, Hutley LB, Tapper NJ, Coutts A, Kerley A, O'Grady AP (2003) Fire impacts on surface heat, moisture and carbon fluxes from a tropical savanna in north Australia. Int J Wildland Fire (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Bird MI, Veenendaal EM, Moyo C, Lloyd J, Frost P (2000) Effects of fire and soil texture on soil carbon in a sub-humid savanna (Matopos, Zimbabwe). Geoderma 94:71–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burrows WH, Henry BK, Black PV, Hoffmann MB, Tait LJ, Anderson ER, Menke N, Danaher T, Carter JO, McKeon GM (2002) Growth and carbon stock change in eucalypt woodlands in northeast Australia: ecological and greenhouse sink implications Global Change Biol 8:769–784Google Scholar
  8. Calder GJ, Day KJ (1982) Fertility studies on four soils of the northern lateritic uplands, Northern Territory Technical Bulletin No 48. Department of the Northern Territory, DarwinGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen X (2002) Carbon balance of a Eucalypt open forest savanna of northern Australia. PhD Thesis, Northern Territory University, Darwin, Northern TerritoryGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen X, Eamus D, Hutley LB (2002) Seasonal patterns of soil carbon dioxide efflux from a wet-dry tropical savanna of northern Australia. Aust J Bot 50:43–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen X, Eamus D, Hutley LB (2003) Seasonal patterns of fine-root productivity and turnover in a tropical savanna of northern Australia. J Trop Ecol (in press)Google Scholar
  12. Christie EK (1978) Ecosystem processes in semi-arid grasslands. I. Primary production and water use of communities possessing different photosynthetic pathways. Aust J Agric Res 29:773–787Google Scholar
  13. Cook GD, Heerdegen R (2001) Spatial variation in the duration of the rainy season in monsoonal Australia. Int J Climatol 21:1723–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Curtis PS, Hanson PJ, Bolstad P, Barford C, Randolph JC, Schmid HP, Wilson KB (2002) Biometric and eddy-covariance based estimates of annual carbon storage in five eastern North American deciduous forests Agric For Meteorol 113:3–19Google Scholar
  15. Delaney M, Brown S, Lugo AE, Torres-Lezama A Quintero NB (1997) The distribution of organic carbon in major components of forests located in five life zones of Venezuela. J Trop Ecol 13:697–708Google Scholar
  16. Eamus D, Prichard H (1998) A cost-benefit analysis of leaves of four Australian savanna species. Tree Physiol 18:537–545PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Eamus D, Prior LD (2001) Ecophysiology of trees of seasonally dry tropics: comparisons among phenologies Adv Ecol Res 32:113–197Google Scholar
  18. Eamus D, Myers BA, Duff G, Williams RJ (1999) Seasonal change in photosynthesis of eight savanna tree species. Tree Physiol 19:665–671PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Eamus D, O'Grady AP, Hutley LB (2000) Dry season conditions determine wet season water use in the wet-dry tropical savanna of northern Australia Tree Physiol 20:1219–1226Google Scholar
  20. Eamus D, Hutley LB, O'Grady AP (2001) Daily and seasonal patterns of carbon and water fluxes above a north Australian savanna. Tree Physiol 21:977–988PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Eamus D, Chen X, Kelley G, Hutley LB (2002) Root biomass and root fractal analyses of an open Eucalyptus forest in a savanna of north Australia. Aust J Bot 50:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ewel KC, Cropper WP, Gholz HL (1987) Soil CO2 evolution in Florida slash pine plantation. I. Changes through time. Can J For Res 17:325–329Google Scholar
  23. Fox ID, Nelder VJ, Wilson GW, Bannink PJ (2001) The vegetation of the Australian tropical savannas. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  24. Gifford RM (2000a) Carbon contents of above-ground tissues of forest and woodland trees. National Carbon Accounting System, Technical Report No 22. Australian Greenhouse Office, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  25. Gifford RM (2000b) Carbon content of woody roots. (Revision 1) National Carbon Accounting System, Technical Report No 7. Australian Greenhouse Office, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  26. Goulden ML, Munger JM, Fan SM, Daube BC, Wofsy SC (1996) Exchange of carbon dioxide by a deciduous forest, response to interannual climate variability. Science 271:1576–1578Google Scholar
  27. Grace J, Lloyd J, McIntyre J, Miranda AC, Meir P, Miranda HS, Nobre C, Moncrieff J, Massheder J, Malhi Y, Wright I, Gash J (1995) Carbon dioxide uptake by an undisturbed tropical rain forest in southwest Amazonia: 1992 to 1993. Science 270:778–780Google Scholar
  28. Greco S, Baldocchi DD (1996) Seasonal variation of CO2 and water vapor exchange rates over a temperate deciduous forest. Global Change Biol 2:183–198Google Scholar
  29. Grierson PF, Adams MA, Attiwill PM (1992) Estimates carbon storage in the above-ground biomass of Victor's forests. Aust J Bot 40:631–640Google Scholar
  30. Hanan NP, Kabat P, Dolman AJ, Elbers JA (1998) Photosynthesis and carbon balance of a Sahelian fallow savanna. Global Change Biol 4:523–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Haynes BE, Gower ST (1995) Belowground carbon allocation in unfertilized and fertilized red pine plantations in Northern Wisconsin. Tree Physiol 15:317–325Google Scholar
  32. Heanes DL (1984) Determination of total organic-C in soil by an improved chromic acid digestion and spectrophotometric procedure. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 15:1191–1213Google Scholar
  33. Hoffmann WA (2002) Direct and indirect effects of fire on radial growth of cerrado savanna trees. J Trop Ecol 18:137–142Google Scholar
  34. House JI, Hall DO (2001) Productivity of tropical grasslands and savannas. In: Roy J, Saugier B, Mooney HA (eds) Terrestrial global productivity. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 363–400Google Scholar
  35. Hutley LB, O'Grady AP, Eamus D (2000) Evapotranspiration from Eucalypt open-forest savanna of Northern Australia. Funct Ecol 14:183–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hutley LB, O'Grady AP, Eamus D (2001) Monsoonal influences on evapotranspiration of savanna vegetation of northern Australia. Oecologia 126:434–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Johnson FL, Risser PG (1974) Biomass, annual net primary production, and dynamics of six mineral elements in a post oak-blackjack oak forest. Ecology 55:1246–1258Google Scholar
  38. Kalpage FSCF (1974) Tropical soils. St Martin's, Macmillan, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  39. Keith H, Raison RJ, Jacobsen KL (1997) Allocation of carbon in a mature eucalypt forest and some effects of soil phosphorus availability. Plant Soil 196:81–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kelley G, Hutley LB, Eamus D, Jolly P (2002) Role of savanna vegetation in soil and groundwater dynamics in a wet-dry tropical climate. In: Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, International Groundwater Conference, 'Balancing The Groundwater Budget', Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, 12-17 May 2002Google Scholar
  41. Kirschbaum MUF, Eamus D, Gifford RM, Roxburgh SH, Sands PJ (2001) Definitions of some ecological terms commonly used in carbon accounting. Cooperative Research Centre for Carbon Accounting, Canberra, pp 2–5Google Scholar
  42. Komiyama A, Ogino K, Aksornkoae S, Sabhasri S (1987) Root biomass of a mangrove forest in southern Thailand. I. Estimation by the trench method and the zonal structure of root biomass. J Trop Ecol 3:97–108Google Scholar
  43. Lal R (2002) Soil carbon dynamics in cropland and rangeland. Environ Pollut 116:353–362CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Linder S (1985) Potential and actual production in Australian forest stands. In: Landsberg JJ, Parsons W (eds) Research for forest management. CSIRO, Division of Forest Research, Canberra, pp 11–35Google Scholar
  45. Long SP, Jones MB, Roberts MJ (1992) Primary production of grass ecosystems of the tropics and sub-tropics. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  46. Malhi Y, Baldocchi DD, Jarvis PG (1999) The carbon balance of tropical, temperate and boreal forests. Plant Cell Environ 22:15–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McDonald NS, McAlpine J (1991) Floods and droughts: the northern climate. In: Haynes CD, Ridpath MG, Williams MAJ (eds) Monsoonal Australia; landscape, ecology and man in the northern lowland. Balkema, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  48. Menaut JC, Cesar A (1979) Structure and primary productivity of Lamto savanna, Ivory Coast. Ecology 60:1197–1210Google Scholar
  49. Miranda AC, Miranda Howard Springs, Lloyd J, Grace J, Francey RJ, McIntyre JA, Meir P, Riggan P, Lockwood R, Brass J (1997) Fluxes of carbon, water and energy over a Brazilian cerrado: an analysis using eddy covariance ad stable isotopes Plant Cell Environ 20:315–328Google Scholar
  50. Montgomery RF, Askew GP (1983) Soils of tropical savannas. In: Bourliere F (ed) Tropical savannas. (Ecosystems of the world, vol 13) Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 63–78Google Scholar
  51. Mott JJ, Williams J, Andrew MH, Gillison AN (1985) Australian savanna ecosystems. In: Tothill JC, Mott JJ (eds) Ecology and management of the world's savannas. Australian Academy of Sciences, Canberra, pp 56–82Google Scholar
  52. Mucha SB (1979) Estimation of tree ages from growth rings of eucalypts in northern Australia. Aust For 42:13–16Google Scholar
  53. Murphy PG, Lugo AE (1995) Dry forests of Central America and the Caribbean. In: Bullock SH, Mooney HA, Medina E (eds) Seasonally dry tropical forests. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 9–34Google Scholar
  54. Myers BA, Duff GA, Eamus D, Fordyce I, O'Grady AP, Williams RJ (1997) Seasonal variation in water relations of trees of differing leaf phenology in a wet-dry tropical savanna near Darwin, northern Australia. Aust J Bot 45:225–240Google Scholar
  55. O'Grady AP, Eamus D, Hutley LB (1999) Transpiration increases during the dry season, patterns of tree water use in Eucalypt open-forests of Northern Australia. Tree Physiol 19:591–597PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. O'Grady AP, Chen X, Eamus D, Hutley LB (2000) Composition, leaf area index and standing biomass of Eucalypt open forest near Darwin in the Northern Territory. Aust J Bot 48:629–638Google Scholar
  57. Prior LD, Eamus D, Duff GA (1997a) Seasonal trends in carbon assimilation, stomatal conductance and pre-dawn leaf water potential in Terminalia ferdinandiana, a deciduous tree of northern Australia savannas. Aust J Bot 45:53–69Google Scholar
  58. Prior LD, Eamus D, Duff GA (1997b) Seasonal and diurnal patterns of carbon assimilation, stomatal conductance and leaf water potential in Eucalyptus tetrodonta saplings in a wet-dry savanna in northern Australia. Aust J Bot 45:241–258Google Scholar
  59. Rochette P, Ellert B, Gregorich EG, Desjardins RL, Pattey E, Lessard R, Johnson BG (1997) Description of a dynamic closed chamber for measuring soil respiration & its comparison with other techniques. Can J Soil Sci 77:195–203Google Scholar
  60. Russell-Smith J, Edwards A, Cook GD (2002) Reliability of biomass burning estimates from savanna fires: biomass burning in northern Australia during the 1999 Biomass Burning and Lightning Experiment-B field campaign. J Geophys Res (in press)Google Scholar
  61. Ryan MG (1991) A simple method for estimating gross carbon budgets for vegetation in forest ecosystems. Tree Physiol 9:255–266Google Scholar
  62. Ryan MG, Waring RH (1992) Maintenance respiration and stand development in a subalpine lodgepole pine forest. Ecology 73:2100–2108Google Scholar
  63. San Jose JJ, Montes RA, Farinas MR (1998) Carbon stocks and fluxes in a temporal scaling from a savanna to a semi-deciduous forest. For Ecol Manage 105:251–262Google Scholar
  64. Satoo T, Madgwick HAI (1982) Forest biomass. Nijhoff /Junk, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  65. Schmidt S, Stewart GR, Turnbull MH, Erskine PD, Ashwath N (1998) Nitrogen relations of natural and disturbed plant communities in tropical Australia (1998) Oecologia 117:95–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Scholes RJ, Hall DO (1996) The carbon budget of tropical savannas, woodlands and grasslands. In: Breymeyer AI, Hall DO, Melillo JM, Ågren GI (eds) Global change: effects on coniferous forests and grassland. Wiley, New York, pp 69–100Google Scholar
  67. Scholes, RJ, Kendall J, Justice CO (1996) The quantity of biomass burned in southern Africa. J Geophys Res 101:23667–23676Google Scholar
  68. Schulze E-D, Wirth C, Heimann M (2000) Managing forests after Kyoto. Science 289:169–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Scurlock JMO, Hall DO (1998) The global carbon sink: a grasslands perspective. Global Change Biol 4:229–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Setterfield SA, Williams RJ (1996) Patterns of flowering and seed production in Eucalyptus miniata and E. tetrodonta in a tropical savanna woodland, Northern Australia. Aust J Bot 44:107–122Google Scholar
  71. Smit AL, George E, Groenwold J (2000) Root observations and measurements at (transparent) interfaces with soil. In: Smit AL, Bengough AG, van Noordwijk M, Pellerin S, van de Geijn, SC (eds) Root methods: a handbook. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 235–271Google Scholar
  72. Tiessen H, Feller C, Sampaio EVSB, Garin P (1998) Carbon sequestration and turnover in semiarid savannas and dry forest. Clim Change 40:105–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tothill JC, Nix HA, Stanton JP, Russell MJ (1985) Land use and productive potentials of Australian savanna lands. In: Tothill JC, Mott JJ (eds) Ecology and management of the world's savannas. Australian Academy of Science, Canberra, pp 125–141Google Scholar
  74. Vogt KA, Vogt DJ Bloomfield J (1998) Analysis of some direct and indirect methods for estimating root biomass and production of forests at an ecosystem level. Plant Soil 200:71–89Google Scholar
  75. Werner PA, Murphy PG (2001) Size-specific biomass allocation and water content of above- and below-ground components of three Eucalyptus species in a Northern Australia savanna. Aust J Bot 49:155–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Whitaker RH, Likens GE (1973) Carbon in the biota. In: Woodwell GM, Pecan EV (eds) AEC Symposium Series 30, NTIS US Dept of Commerce, Springfield, Va.Google Scholar
  77. Williams J, Day KJ, Isbell RF, Reddy SJ (1985) Soils and Climate. In: Munchow RC (ed) Agro-research for the semi-arid tropics: North-West Australia. University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, pp 31–92Google Scholar
  78. Williams RJ, Myers BA, Muller MJ, Duff GA, Eamus D (1997) Leaf phenology of woody species in a northern Australian tropical savanna. Ecology 78:2542–2558Google Scholar
  79. Williams RJ, Cook GD, Gill AM, Moore PHR (1999) Fire regime, fire intensity and tree survival in a tropical savanna in northern Australia. Aust J Ecol 24:50–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Williams RJ, Griffiths AD, Allan G (2002) Fire regimes and biodiversity in the wet-dry tropical savanna landscapes of northern Australia. In: Flammable Australia: the fire regimes and biodiversity of a continent. Bradstock RA, Williams JA, Gill AM (eds) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 281–304Google Scholar
  81. Wilson BA, Bowman DMJS (1987) Fire, storm, flood and drought: the vegetation ecology of the Howard Peninsula, Northern Territory, Australia. Aust J Ecol 12:165–174Google Scholar
  82. Wilson BA, Brocklehurst PS, Clark MJ, Dickinson KJM (1990) Vegetation survey of the Northern Territory, Australia, Technical Report No 49. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, DarwinGoogle Scholar
  83. Wirth C, Czimczik CI, Schulze E-D (2002) Beyond annual budgets: carbon flux at different temporal scales in fire-prone Siberian Scots pine forests. Tellus 54B:611–630Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyong Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lindsay B. Hutley
    • 1
  • Derek Eamus
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Cooperative Research Centre for the Sustainable Development of Tropical Savannas, Faculty of Science, Information Technology and EducationNorthern Territory UniversityDarwinAustralia
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Institute for Water and Environmental Resource ManagementUniversity of Technology—SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations