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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of selective logging on tropical forest tree growth


We combined measurements of tree growth and carbon dioxide exchange to investigate the effects of selective logging on the Aboveground Live Biomass (AGLB) of a tropical rain forest in the Amazon. Most of the measurements began at least 10 months before logging and continued at least 36 months after logging. The logging removed ∼15% of the trees with Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) greater than 35 cm, which resulted in an instantaneous 10% reduction in AGLB. Both wood production and mortality increased following logging, while Gross Primary Production (GPP) was unchanged. The ratio of wood production to GPP (the wood Carbon Use Efficiency or wood CUE) more than doubled following logging. Small trees (10 cm < DBH < 35 cm) accounted for most of the enhanced wood production. Medium trees (35 cm < DBH < 55 cm) that were within 30 m of canopy gaps created by the logging also showed increased growth. The patterns of enhanced growth are most consistent with logging-induced increases in light availability. The AGLB continued to decline over the study, as mortality outpaced wood production. Wood CUE and mortality remained elevated throughout the 3 years of postlogging measurements. The future trajectory of AGLB and the forest's carbon balance are uncertain, and will depend on how long it takes for heterotrophic respiration, mortality, and CUE to return to prelogging levels.

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