Plant and Soil

, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 27–41 | Cite as

Management of tropical soils as sinks or sources of atmospheric carbon

  • Ariel E. Lugo
  • Sandra Brown
Research Article

Abstract

The prevailing paradigm for anticipating changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) with changes in land use postulates reductions in SOC in managed systems (agriculture and tree plantations) relative to mature tropical forests. Variations of this notion are used in carbon models to predict the role of tropical soils in the global carbon cycle. Invariably these models show tropical soils as sources of atmospheric carbon. We present data from a variety of studies that show that SOC in managed systems can be lower, the same as, or greater than mature tropical forests and that SOC can increase rapidly after the abandonment of agricultural fields. History of land use affects the comparison of SOC in managed and natural ecosystems. Our review of the literature also highlights the need for greater precautions when comparing SOC in mature tropical forests with that of managed ecosystems. Information on previous land use, bulk density, and consistency in sampling depth are some of the most common omissions in published studies. From comparable SOC data from a variety of tropical land uses we estimate that tropical soils can accumulate between 168 and 553 Tg C/yr. The greatest potential for carbon sequestration in tropical soils is in the forest fallows which cover some 250 million hectares. Increased attention to SOC by land managers can result in greater rates of carbon sequestration than predicted by current SOC models.

Key words

carbon sinks changes in soils soil fertility soil management soil organic carbon soil organic matter tropical soil succession 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen J C 1985 Soil response to forest clearing in the United States and the tropics: Geological and biological factors. Biotropica 17, 15–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atta-Krana A N 1990 Alley farming with leucaena: Effect of short grazed fallows on soil fertility and crop yields. Exp. Agric. 26, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aweto A O 1988 Effects of shifting cultivation on a tropical rain forest soil in southwestern Nigeria. Turrialba 38, 19–22.Google Scholar
  4. Ayanaba A, Tuckwell S B and Jenkinson D S 1976 The effects of clearing and cropping on the organic reserves and biomass of tropical soils. Soil Biol. Biochem. 8, 519–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berish C W and Ewel J J 1988 Root development in simple and complex tropical successional ecosystems. Plant and Soil 106, 73–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bormann F H and Berlyn G 1981 Age and growth rate of tropical trees: New directions for research. Bulletin No. 94. Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. 137 p.Google Scholar
  7. Bouwman A F (Ed.) 1989 Soils and the Greenhouse Effect. Wiley, New York. 575 p.Google Scholar
  8. Brams E A 1971 Continuous cultivation of West African soils: Organic matter diminution and effects of applied lime and phosphorus. Plant and Soil 35, 401–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown S and Lugo A E 1982 The storage and production of organic matter in tropical forests and their role in the global carbon cycle. Biotropica 14, 161–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown S and Lugo A E 1990a Effects of forest clearing and succession on the carbon and nitrogen content of soils in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. Plant and Soil 124, 53–64.Google Scholar
  11. Brown S and Lugo A E 1990b Tropical secondary forests. J. Ecol. 6, 1–32.Google Scholar
  12. Brown S and Lugo A E 1992 Aboveground biomass estimates for tropical moist forests of the Brazilian Amazon. Interciencia 17, 8–18.Google Scholar
  13. Brown S, Lugo A E and Chapman J 1986 Biomass of tropical tree plantations and its implication for the global carbon budget. Can. J. For. Res. 16, 390–394.Google Scholar
  14. Brown S, Gillespie A J R and Lugo A E 1991 Biomass of tropical forests of south and southeast Asia. Can. J. For. Res. 21, 111–117.Google Scholar
  15. Cerri C, Volkoff B and Andreaux F 1991 Nature and behaviour of organic matter in soils under natural forest, and after deforestation, burning and cultivation, near Manaus. For. Ecol. Manage. 38, 247–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coile T S 1940 Soil changes associated with loblolly pine succession on abandoned agricultural land of the Piedmont Plateau. Duke University School of Forestry Bulletin 5. Durham, NC. 85 p.Google Scholar
  17. Coleman D C, Reid C P P and Cole C V 1983 Biological strategies of nutrient cycling in soil systems. Adv. Ecol. Res. 13, 1–55.Google Scholar
  18. Cuevas E, Brown S and Lugo A E 1991 Above- and belowground organic matter storage and production in a tropical pine plantation and a paired broadleaf secondary forest. Plant and Soil 135, 257–268.Google Scholar
  19. Detwiler R P 1986 Land use change and the global carbon cycle: The role of tropical soils. Biogeochemistry 2, 67–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eden M J, McGregor D F M and Vieira N A Q 1990. III. Pasture development on cleared forest lands in northern Amazonia. The Geog. J. 156, 283–296.Google Scholar
  21. Edwards P J and Grubb P J 1977 Studies of mineral cycling in a montane rain forest in New Guinea. 1. The distribution of organic matter in vegetation and soil. J. Ecol. 65, 943–965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Edwards C A, Stinner B R, Stinner D and Rabatin S Eds. 1988 Biological interactions in soil. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 24, 1–380.Google Scholar
  23. Ekanade O 1991 The nature of soil properties under mature forest and plantations of fruiting an exotic trees in the tropical rain forest fringes of SW Nigeria. J. World For. Res. Manage. 5, 101–114.Google Scholar
  24. Ezell A W and Arbour S J 1985 Long-term effects of scalping on organic matter content of sandy forest soils. USDA Forest Service. Tree Planters Notes 36, 13–15.Google Scholar
  25. Flint E P and Richards J F 1991 Historical analysis of changes in land use and caron stocks of vegetation in South and Southeast Asia. Can. J. For. Res. 21, 91–110.Google Scholar
  26. FAO 1991 Second interim report on the state of tropical forests. Forest Resource Assessment 1990 Project, FAO, Rome. 2 p.Google Scholar
  27. Gomez-Pompa A and Kaus A 1990 Traditional management of tropical forests in Mexico. In Alternatives for Deforestation. Ed. A BAnderson. pp 45–64. Colombia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Grainger A 1988 Estimating areas of degraded tropical lands requiring replenishment of forest cover. Int. Tree Crops J. 5, 31–61.Google Scholar
  29. Holdridge L R 1967 Life Zone Ecology. Tropical Science Center. San Jose, Costa Rica. 206 p.Google Scholar
  30. Holdridge L R, Grenke W C, Hatheway W H, Liang T and Tosi J A 1971 Forest environments in tropical life zones, a pilot study. Pergamon Press, New York. 747 p.Google Scholar
  31. Harmon M E, Franklin J F, Swanson F J, Sollins P, Gregory S V, Lattin J D, Anderson N H, Cline S P, Aumen N G, Sedell J R, Lienkaemper G W, Cromack KJr and Cummins K W 1986 Ecology of coarse woody debris in temperate ecosystems. Adv. Ecol. Res. 15, 133–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Houghton R A, Skole D L and Lefkowitz D S 1991 Changes in the landscape of Latin America between 1850 and 1985 II. net release of CO2 to the atmosphere. For. Ecol. Manage. 38, 173–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jenny H 1980 The Soil Resource Origin and Behavior. Springer-Verlag, New York. 377 p.Google Scholar
  34. Lanly J P 1982 Tropical Forest Resources. FAO Forestry Paper No. 30. FAO, Rome. 106 p.Google Scholar
  35. Lugo A E 1988 The future of the forest. Environment 30, 16–20, 41–45.Google Scholar
  36. Lugo A E 1992 Comparison of tropical tree plantations with secondary forests of similar age. Ecol. Monog. 62, 1–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lugo A E and Brown S 1991 Comparing tropical and temperate forests. In Comparative Analysis of Ecosystems: Patterns, Mechanisms, and Theories. Eds. JCole, GLovett and SFindley. pp 319–330. Springer Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  38. Lugo A E and Brown S 1993 Tropical forests as sinks of atmospheric carbon. For. Ecol. Manage. (In press).Google Scholar
  39. Lugo A E, Wang D and Bormann F H 1990a A comparative analysis of biomass production in five tropical tree species. For. Ecol. Manage. 31, 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lugo A E, Cuevas E and Sánchez M J 1990b Nutrient and mass in litter and top soil of ten tropical tree plantations. Plant and Soil 125, 263–280.Google Scholar
  41. Lugo A E, Sánchez M J and Brown S 1986 Land use and organic carbon content of some subtropical soils. Plant and Soil 96, 185–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lugo A E, Brown S and Chapman J 1988 An analytical review of production rates and stemwood biomass of tropical forest plantations. For. Ecol. Manage. 23, 179–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lundgren B 1978 Soil conditions and nutrient cycling under natural and plantation forests in Tanzanian highlands. Reports in Forest Ecology and Forest Soils 31. Department of Forestry Soils, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden. 426 p.Google Scholar
  44. Manner H I and Morrison R J 1991 A temporal sequence (chronosequence) of soil carbon and nitrogen development after phosphate mining on Naura Island. Pacific Science 45, 400–404.Google Scholar
  45. Martins P F da S, Cerri C C, Volkoff B, Andreux F and Chauvel A 1991 Consequences of clearing and tillage on the soil of a natural Amazonian ecosystem. For. Ecol. Manage. 38, 273–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nakano K and Ahbuddin S 1989 Nutrient dynamics in forest fallows in South-East Asia. In Mineral Nutrients in Tropical Forest and Savanna Ecosystems. Ed. JProctor. pp 325–336. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.Google Scholar
  47. Nye P H and Greenland D J 1960 The Soil under Shifting Cultivation. Commonwealth Bureau of Soils, Harpenden. Technical Communication No. 51. 156 p.Google Scholar
  48. Nye P H and Greenland D J 1964 Changes in the soil after clearing a tropical forest. Plant and Soil 21, 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Parton W J W, Anderson D, Cole C V and Stewart J W B 1983 Simulation of soil organic matter formations and mineralization in semiarid agroecosystems. In Nutrient Cycling in Agricultural Ecosystems. Special Publication 23. Eds. R RLowrance R LTodd L EAsmussen and R ALeonard. pp 533–550. College of Agriculture Experiment Station. University of Georgia. Athens, GA.Google Scholar
  50. Parton W J, Schimel D S, Cole C V and Ojima D S 1987 Analysis of factors controlling soil organic matter levels in Great Plains grasslands. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 51, 1173–1179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Post W M, Emanuel W R, Zinke P J and Stangenberger A G 1982 Soil carbon pools and world life zones. Nature 298, 156–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sánchez P A 1976 Properties and management of soils in the tropics. Wiley, New York. 618 p.Google Scholar
  53. Sánchez P A, Palm C A, Davey C B, Szott L T and Russell C E 1985 Tree crops as soil improvers in the humid tropics? In Attributes of Trees as Crop Plants. Eds. M G RCannell and J EJacksons. pp 327–358. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Natural Environment Research Council, Midlothian, Scotland.Google Scholar
  54. Sánchez P A, Villachica J H and Bandy D E 1983 Soil fertility dynamics after clearing a tropical rain forest in Peru. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 47, 1171–1178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sanford R J, Saldarriaga J, Clark K E, Uhl C and Herrera R 1985 Amazonian rain forest fires. Science 227, 53–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Schlesinger W H 1986 Changes in soil carbon storage and associated properties with disturbance and recovery. In The Changing Carbon Cycle a Global Analysis. Eds. J RTrabalka and D EReichle. pp 194–220. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  57. Schlesinger W H 1990 Evidence from chronosequence studies for low carbon-storage potential of soils. Nature 348, 232–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schlesinger W H 1991 Biogeochemistry an Analysis of Global Change. Academic Press Inc. New York. 443 p.Google Scholar
  59. Swift M J 1986 Report of the third workshop on the decade of the tropics. Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Program. Biology International Special Issue 13, 68 p.Google Scholar
  60. Uhl C, Buschbacher R and Serrao E A S 1988 Abandoned pastures in eastern Amazonia. I. Patterns of plant succession. J. Ecol. 76, 663–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weaver P L, Birdsey R A and Lugo A E 1987 Soil organic matter in secondary forests of Puerto Rico. Biotropica 19, 17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ariel E. Lugo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sandra Brown
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest ServiceSouthern Forest Experiment StationRio PiedrasUSA
  2. 2.Department of ForestryUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

Personalised recommendations