Carbon dynamics of mature and regrowth tropical forests derived from a pantropical database (TropForC-db)

Kristina J Anderson-Teixeira, Maria M H Wang, Jennifer C McGarvey, David S LeBauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tropical forests play a critical role in the global carbon (C) cycle, storing ~45% of terrestrial C and constituting the largest component of the terrestrial C sink. Despite their central importance to the global C cycle, their ecosystem-level C cycles are not as well-characterized as those of extra-tropical forests, and knowledge gaps hamper efforts to quantify C budgets across the tropics and to model tropical forest-climate interactions. To advance understanding of C dynamics of pantropical forests, we compiled a new database, the Tropical Forest C database (TropForC-db), which contains data on ground-based measurements of ecosystem-level C stocks and annual fluxes along with disturbance history. This database currently contains 3568 records from 845 plots in 178 geographically distinct areas, making it the largest and most comprehensive database of its type. Using TropForC-db, we characterized C stocks and fluxes for young, intermediate-aged, and mature forests. Relative to existing C budgets of extra-tropical forests, mature tropical broadleaf evergreen forests had substantially higher gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (Reco), their autotropic respiration (Ra) consumed a larger proportion (~67%) of GPP, and their woody stem growth (ANPPstem) represented a smaller proportion of net primary productivity (NPP, ~32%) or GPP (~9%). In regrowth stands, aboveground biomass increased rapidly during the first 20 years following stand-clearing disturbance, with slower accumulation following agriculture and in deciduous forests, and continued to accumulate at a slower pace in forests aged 20-100 years. Most other C stocks likewise increased with stand age, while potential to describe age trends in C fluxes was generally data-limited. We expect that TropForC-db will prove useful for model evaluation and for quantifying the contribution of forests to the global C cycle. The database version associated with this publication is archived in Dryad (DOI: 10.5061/dryad.t516f) and a dynamic version is maintained at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1690-1709
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Carbon Cycle
  • Databases, Factual
  • Forests
  • Tropical Climate
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Productivity
  • Secondary
  • Tropical forest
  • Biomass
  • Carbon cycle
  • Regeneration
  • Net ecosystem exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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