Forest Ecosystems (Apr 2019)

Wood density and carbon concentration of coarse woody debris in native forests, Brazil

  • Andréa B. Moreira,
  • Timothy G. Gregoire,
  • Hilton Thadeu Z. do Couto

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


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Abstract Background With the objective of increasing knowledge on biomass and carbon stocks, and thus improving the accuracy of published estimates, the present study explored wood density and carbon concentration of coarse woody debris (diameter ≥10) by decay class in a Seasonal Semi-deciduous Forest (SSF) area in the Atlantic Rain Forest and in a Cerrado sensu-stricto (CSS) area (Brazilian savanna), in Brazil. Two strata were identified in each area and ten sampling units were systematic located in each stratum. Data were collected according to the line intersect sampling method. Each tallied element, the diameter, length, and perpendicular width were recorded at the transect intersection point. Each element was classified into a decay class, and the species was identified when possible. Sample discs were cut from each element, from which cylindrical samples were extracted and oven-dried to determine density. These cylinders were milled and analyzed using a LECO-C632 to determine carbon concentration as percentage of mass. Results In both areas, wood density decreased as the decay class increased. For SSF the mean carbon concentration of all analyzed samples was 49.8% with a standard deviation of 3.3, with a range of 27.9–57.0% across 506 observations. For CSS the general mean was 49.6% with a standard deviation of 2.6, with a range of 31.2–54.5% over 182 observations. Carbon concentration barely change between decay classes. Carbon stock was estimated at 3.3 and 0.7 MgC/ha for the SSF and the CSS, respectively. Similar results were obtained when using a 50% conversion constant. Conclusions The present study concludes that wood density decreases as the woody debris becomes more decomposed, a pattern found in many previous studies. The carbon concentration, however, barely changes between decay classes, and that result is consistent with most of the literature reviewed. Our carbon concentrations are very close to the 50% used most commonly as a conversion factor. We strongly recommend that future studies of CWD evaluate wood density and carbon concentration by decay class to address the uncertainty still found in the literature.