Woody Vines Affecting Tropical Forest’s Capacity to Store Carbon

Woody Vines Affecting Tropical Forest’s Capacity to Store Carbon

As per latest research by Smithsonian researchers, woody vines or lianas are affecting tropical forest’s capacity to store carbon. They showed that vines slow down the tree growth of tropical forests and may even cause premature deaths.

Climate change, increased disturbance or more severe seasonal drought, are some of the factors that causes increase in abundance of Lianas. Vines could pose a big hand in accelerating climate change by reducing the forest’s ability to accumulate and store carbon released through burning fossil fuels. It has been reported that tropical forests account for about 33.33% of total carbon fixed by photosynthesis.

Stefan Schnitzer, a biology professor at Marquette University and a long-term research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, said the effects of vines on trees alter how carbon is accumulated and stored on tropical forests trees. Geertje van der Heijden, a postdoctoral fellow at STRI and in Schnitzer's lab, and Jennifer Powers, a professor at the University of Minnesota, said that tropical forests account for more than 25% of species and woody stems.

Earlier studies conducted by Schnitzer and colleagues have shown that lianas can have significant negative effects on forest biomass growth and accumulation. During the research period, researchers cut all lianas or vines in eight experimental plots. They monitored the growth in diameter of tress and lianas in the plot for next three years. Researchers found 76% reduction in net biomass accumulation by the end of three years in lianas. Also, they found 14% reduction in forest canopy productivity in liana-free plots with 65% increase in the productivity of woody stems.

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