Aboveground biomass in mature and secondary seasonally dry tropical forests: A literature review and global synthesis

Justin M. Becknell, Lisa Kissing Kucek, Jennifer S. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTFs) are globally extensive but understudied, especially from a biogeochemical perspective. Historically, much of the land covered by SDTF has been cleared for agriculture or other land uses, but forests are now regenerating in some areas. Quantifying biomass stocks in mature and regenerating SDTF is important for constructing global carbon budgets and for designing local policy and management tools designed to sequester and store carbon. We reviewed 44 published and unpublished studies that estimate aboveground biomass in SDTF around the world and examined patterns of biomass across successional stages and the climatic range in which SDTF occur. Aboveground biomass in mature SDTF ranged from 39 to 334Mgha-1. A single climatic variable, mean annual precipitation (MAP), explained over 50% of the variation in aboveground biomass. Regenerating SDTFs at the wetter end of the precipitation spectrum (1500-2000mm MAP) attained a greater biomass but did not appear to reach maximum biomass faster than SDTFs at drier sites. We used spatially explicit biomass, climate, and biome range data along with the derived precipitation-biomass relationship to estimate current and potential global SDTF biomass C stocks of 8.7 and 22.1Pg respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-95
Number of pages8
JournalForest Ecology and Management
StatePublished - Jul 15 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Sarah Hobbie, Heather Whittington, Sasha Wright, and Joseph Reid for comments on previous drafts of the manuscript. Funding for this study was provided by a NASA New Investigator Award (NS000107), NSF CAREER Award (DEB-1053237), and a McKnight Land Grant Professorship to J.S.P.


  • Carbon storage
  • Forest succession
  • Seasonally dry tropical forest
  • Secondary tropical forest


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