, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1097–1111 | Cite as

Ecosystem Carbon Storage Across the Grassland–Forest Transition in the High Andes of Manu National Park, Peru

  • Adam GibbonEmail author
  • Miles R. Silman
  • Yadvinder Malhi
  • Joshua B. Fisher
  • Patrick Meir
  • Michael Zimmermann
  • Greta C. Dargie
  • William R. Farfan
  • Karina C. Garcia


Improved management of carbon storage by terrestrial biomes has significant value for mitigating climate change. The carbon value of such management has the potential to provide additional income to rural communities and provide biodiversity and climate adaptation co-benefits. Here, we quantify the carbon stores in a 49,300-ha landscape centered on the cloud forest–grassland transition of the high Andes in Manu National Park, Peru. Aboveground carbon densities were measured across the landscape by field sampling of 70 sites above and below the treeline. The forest near the treeline contained 63.4 ± 5.2 Mg C ha−1 aboveground, with an additional 13.9 ± 2.8 Mg C ha−1 estimated to be stored in the coarse roots, using a root to shoot ratio of 0.26. Puna grasslands near the treeline were found to store 7.5 ± 0.7 Mg C ha−1 in aboveground biomass. Comparing our result to soil data gathered by Zimmermann and others (Ecosystems 13:62–74, 2010), we found the ratio of belowground:aboveground carbon decreased from 15.8 on the puna to 8.6 in the transition zone and 2.1 in the forest. No significant relationships were found between carbon densities and slope, altitude or fire disturbance history, though grazing (for puna) was found to reduce aboveground carbon densities significantly. We scaled our study sites to the study region with remote sensing observations from Landsat. The carbon sequestration potential of improved grazing management and assisted upslope treeline migration was also estimated. Afforestation of puna at the treeline could generate revenues of US $1,374 per ha over the project lifetime via commercialization of the carbon credits from gains in aboveground carbon stocks. Uncertainties in the fate of the large soil carbon stocks under an afforestation scenario exist.

Key words

Peru Manu National Park treeline puna upper tropical montane cloud forest carbon stocks 



We thank the Blue Moon Fund for support. We especially thank Manu National Park and the Peruvian Instituto Nacional de Recusos National (INRENA) and the Amazon Conservation Association (ACCA) for permission to work in Manu National Park and at the Wayquecha field station, respectively. The guards at Manu National Park and Luis Imunda provided essential logistical support and advice. Five hard-working undergraduate students from Wake Forest University and Flor Zamora, Percy Chambi and Nelson Cahuana from Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco, were essential for the completion of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Gibbon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miles R. Silman
    • 2
  • Yadvinder Malhi
    • 1
  • Joshua B. Fisher
    • 1
  • Patrick Meir
    • 3
  • Michael Zimmermann
    • 3
  • Greta C. Dargie
    • 3
  • William R. Farfan
    • 2
    • 4
  • Karina C. Garcia
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWake Forest UniversityWinston SalemUSA
  3. 3.School of GeosciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  4. 4.Universidad Nacional de San Antonio AbadCuscoPeru

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