• 1 National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, GKVK Campus, Bellary Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560 065, India
  • 2 Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27705, USA
  • 3 La Selva Biological Station, Organization for Tropical Studies, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Heredia, Costa Rica
  • 4 CSIRO Land and Water, Tropical Forest Research Centre, PO Box 780, Atherton, Queensland 4883, Australia
  • 5 Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Kepong, Selangor Darul Ehsan 52109, Malaysia
  • 6 Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Congo-Program, Brazzaville B.P. 14537, Republic of Congo
  • 7 Centre for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Panamá, Republic of Panama
  • 8 Department of Botany, CTFS-ForestGEO, NMNH - MRC 166, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, District Of Columbia 20013-7012, USA
  • 9 Environment Department, CIRCLE, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
  • 10 Institut Français de Pondichéry, 11, Saint Louis Street, Pondicherry 605 001, India
  • 11 MUSE - Science Museum of Trento, Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, 38122 Trento, Italy
Nat Commun, 2016 04 25;7:11351.
PMID: 27108957 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11351


Defaunation is causing declines of large-seeded animal-dispersed trees in tropical forests worldwide, but whether and how these declines will affect carbon storage across this biome is unclear. Here we show, using a pan-tropical data set, that simulated declines of large-seeded animal-dispersed trees have contrasting effects on aboveground carbon stocks across Earth's tropical forests. In our simulations, African, American and South Asian forests, which have high proportions of animal-dispersed species, consistently show carbon losses (2-12%), but Southeast Asian and Australian forests, where there are more abiotically dispersed species, show little to no carbon losses or marginal gains (±1%). These patterns result primarily from changes in wood volume, and are underlain by consistent relationships in our empirical data (∼2,100 species), wherein, large-seeded animal-dispersed species are larger as adults than small-seeded animal-dispersed species, but are smaller than abiotically dispersed species. Thus, floristic differences and distinct dispersal mode-seed size-adult size combinations can drive contrasting regional responses to defaunation.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.