Long-term carbon sink in Borneo’s forests halted by drought and vulnerable to edge effects

Lan Qie, Simon L. Lewis, Martin J. P. Sullivan, Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez, Georgia C. Pickavance, Terry Sunderland, Peter Ashton, Wannes Hubau, Kamariah Abu Salim, Shin-Ichiro Aiba, Lindsay F. Banin, Nicholas Berry, Francis Q. Brearley, David F. R. P. Burslem, Martin Dančák, Stuart J. Davies, Gabriella Fredriksson, Keith C. Hamer, Radim Hédl, Lip Khoon KhoKanehiro Kitayama, Haruni Krisnawati, Stanislav Lhota, Yadvinder Malhi, Colin Maycock, Faizah Metali, Edi Mirmanto, Laszlo Nagy, Reuben Nilus, Robert Ong, Colin A. Pendry, Axel Dalberg Poulsen, Richard B. Primack, Ervan Rutishauser, Ismayadi Samsoedin, Bernaulus Saragih, Plinio Sist, J. W. Ferry Slik, Rahayu Sukmaria Sukri, Martin Svátek, Sylvester Tan, Aiyen Tjoa, Mark van Nieuwstadt, Ronald R. E. Vernimmen, Ishak Yassir, Petra Susan Kidd, Muhammad Fitriadi, Nur Khalish Hafizhah Ideris, Rafizah Mat Serudin, Layla Syaznie Abdullah Lim, Muhammad Shahruney Saparudin, Oliver L. Phillips

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Abstract

Less than half of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions remain in the atmosphere. While carbon balance models imply large carbon uptake in tropical forests, direct on-the-ground observations are still lacking in Southeast Asia. Here, using long-term plot monitoring records of up to half a century, we find that intact forests in Borneo gained 0.43 Mg C ha−1 per year (95% CI 0.14–0.72, mean period 1988–2010) above-ground live biomass. These results closely match those from African and Amazonian plot networks, suggesting that the world’s remaining intact tropical forests are now en masse out-of-equilibrium. Although both pan-tropical and long-term, the sink in remaining intact forests appears vulnerable to climate and land use changes. Across Borneo the 1997–1998 El Niño drought temporarily halted the carbon sink by increasing tree mortality, while fragmentation persistently offset the sink and turned many edge-affected forests into a carbon source to the atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1966
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
Early online date19 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

  • climate-change ecology
  • climate-change impacts
  • forest ecology

Cite this

Qie, L., Lewis, S. L., Sullivan, M. J. P., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Pickavance, G. C., Sunderland, T., ... Phillips, O. L. (2017). Long-term carbon sink in Borneo’s forests halted by drought and vulnerable to edge effects. Nature Communications, 8, [1966]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01997-0