Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Biogenic volatile organic compound emissions from a lowland tropical wet forest in Costa Rica


Twenty common plant species were screened for emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) at a lowland tropical wet forest site in Costa Rica. Ten of the species examined emitted substantial quantities of isoprene. These species accounted for 35-50% of the total basal area of old-growth forest on the major edaphic site types, indicating that a high proportion of the canopy leaf area is a source of isoprene. A limited number of canopy-level BVOC flux measurements were also collected by relaxed eddy accumulation (REA). These measurements verify that the forest canopy in this region is indeed a significant source of isoprene. In addition, REA fluxes of methanol and especially acetone were also significant, exceeding model estimates and warranting future investigation at this site. Leaf monoterpene emissions were non-detectable or very low from the species surveyed, and ambient concentrations and REA fluxes likewise were very low. Although the isoprene emission rates reported here are largely consistent with phylogenetic relations found in other studies (at the family, genus, and species levels), two species in the family Mimosaceae, a group previously found to consist largely of non-isoprene emitters, emitted significant quantities of isoprene. One of these, Pentaclethra macroloba (Willd.) Kuntze, is by far the most abundant canopy tree species in the forests of this area, composing 30-40% of the total basal area. The other, Zygia longifolia (Humb. & Bonpl.) Britton & Rose is a common riparian species. Our results suggest that the source strength of BVOCs is important not only to tropical atmospheric chemistry, but also may be important in determining net ecosystem carbon exchange.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View