Assessments of Carbon Stock Hotspots in Nicaragua and Costa Rica



Climate change is negatively affecting tropical regions through increasing temperatures and decreased precipitation leading to changes in local hydrology and decreasing water supply among others. In order to make accurate future predictions of carbon stock and forest health it is necessary to better understand the current underlying baseline carbon stock and how it may vary across space. Here we adapted an existing carbon stock assessment method and applied it to two tropical regions in Nicaragua and Costa Rica managed by the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy. Carbon stock was calculated based on 1) above-ground tree biomass, 2) above-ground sapling biomass, 3) leaf litter, herb and grass biomass, 4) soil organic carbon, 5) below-ground biomass, 6) stumps and deadwood and 7) regenerating plants. Our results show a strata-pooled average of 234.09 ± 379 Mg C ha-1 (n=40) carbon at the Costa Rican site and 209.20 ± 216 Mg C ha-1 (n=40) at the Nicaraguan site. These values are much higher than those available on a biome-wide scale, highlighting the extent of carbon stock loss outside these study areas as a result of anthropogenic disturbances, in comparison to more pristine areas. Local investigations into carbon stocks in the tropics are necessary to better estimate the current state of carbon content in the tropics. By adapting existing sampling protocols to local conditions this can be achieved efficiently. Furthermore, local estimates of carbon stock enable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to participate in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) program led by the United Nations.


REDD Carbon hotspots Climate change GHG emissions Tropics 



The authors wish to thank Renee Molina and the MRC for the opportunity to work on this project, as well as all personnel at the Estación Biológica La Suerte and Estación Biológica de Ometepe for providing hospitality and a great working environment. We are grateful to Grant Humphries and Mark Spangler for insight into the topic and helping with field work in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Furthermore, we want to thank the field assistants and class students: Hazel Berrios, Ben Carlson, and Catherine Melodie Babin, as well as Eak Bahadur Ranar from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu/Nepal for help with the sampling protocol and equations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de biologie et Québec-Océan, Takuvik Joint International LaboratoryUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biology and WildlifeUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.EWHALE lab, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)FairbanksUSA

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