Affiliations 

  • 1 Ecosystem Dynamics and Forest Management Group, School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany. sebastian.seibold@tum.de
  • 2 Ecosystem Dynamics and Forest Management Group, School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany
  • 3 Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4 Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA, USA
  • 5 Field Station Fabrikschleichach, University of Würzburg, Rauhenebrach, Germany
  • 6 Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 7 Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  • 8 Department of Biogeography, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
  • 9 Instituto de Ecología Regional, CONICET-Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Yerba Buena, Argentina
  • 10 Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
  • 11 Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 12 Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Centre of Mazandaran, Sari, Iran
  • 13 Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  • 14 Department of Biodiversity Conservation, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 15 CIRAD, UMR Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane (EcoFoG), AgroParisTech, CNRS, INRA, Universite des Antilles, Universite de Guyane, Kourou, France
  • 16 Grassland Vegetation Lab, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • 17 Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Aas, Norway
  • 18 Institute of Ecology and Botany, Centre for Ecological Research, Vácrátót, Hungary
  • 19 Animal Ecology, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany
  • 20 École d'Ingénieurs de Purpan, Université de Toulouse, UMR 1201 Dynafor, Toulouse, France
  • 21 Ecosystem Science and Management Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada
  • 22 Laboratory of Applied Ecology, University of Abomey-Calavi, Godomey, Benin
  • 23 Department of Ecology, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
  • 24 Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 25 Conservation Ecology, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany
  • 26 Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 27 Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 28 International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, San Juan, PR, USA
  • 29 Forest Entomology, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 30 Evolutionary Zoology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
  • 31 Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
  • 32 Bavarian Forest National Park, Grafenau, Germany
  • 33 Eurofins Ahma Oy, Oulu, Finland
  • 34 Department of Plant Systematics, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
  • 35 Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden
  • 36 Applied Landscape Ecology, Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan
  • 37 School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
  • 38 CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China
  • 39 ECNU-Alberta Joint Lab for Biodiversity Study, Tiantong National Station for Forest Ecosystem Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
  • 40 Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Banos, Laguna, The Philippines
  • 41 Department of Thermodynamics, Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Resistencia, Argentina
  • 42 Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia
  • 43 Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Laboratory, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • 44 School of Environment and Science, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia
  • 45 School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  • 46 Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK
  • 47 Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University, Pokhara, Nepal
  • 48 Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
  • 49 Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute), Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 50 Institute of Zoology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 51 Tropical Biodiversity and Social Enterprise, Fort Dauphin, Madagascar
  • 52 Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil
  • 53 Ecology Group, University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany
  • 54 H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River, OR, USA
  • 55 Environmental and Conservation Sciences, Murdoch University, Melville, Western Australia, Australia
  • 56 Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia
  • 57 Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore, India
  • 58 ARC Centre for Forest Value, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 59 Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany
  • 60 EcoBank Team, National Institute of Ecology, Seocheon-gun, Republic of Korea
  • 61 College of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China
Nature, 2021 09;597(7874):77-81.
PMID: 34471275 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03740-8

Abstract

The amount of carbon stored in deadwood is equivalent to about 8 per cent of the global forest carbon stocks1. The decomposition of deadwood is largely governed by climate2-5 with decomposer groups-such as microorganisms and insects-contributing to variations in the decomposition rates2,6,7. At the global scale, the contribution of insects to the decomposition of deadwood and carbon release remains poorly understood7. Here we present a field experiment of wood decomposition across 55 forest sites and 6 continents. We find that the deadwood decomposition rates increase with temperature, and the strongest temperature effect is found at high precipitation levels. Precipitation affects the decomposition rates negatively at low temperatures and positively at high temperatures. As a net effect-including the direct consumption by insects and indirect effects through interactions with microorganisms-insects accelerate the decomposition in tropical forests (3.9% median mass loss per year). In temperate and boreal forests, we find weak positive and negative effects with a median mass loss of 0.9 per cent and -0.1 per cent per year, respectively. Furthermore, we apply the experimentally derived decomposition function to a global map of deadwood carbon synthesized from empirical and remote-sensing data, obtaining an estimate of 10.9 ± 3.2 petagram of carbon per year released from deadwood globally, with 93 per cent originating from tropical forests. Globally, the net effect of insects may account for 29 per cent of the carbon flux from deadwood, which suggests a functional importance of insects in the decomposition of deadwood and the carbon cycle.

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