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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Pantropical variability in tree crown allometry

Panzou, Grace Jopaul Loubota; Fayolle, Adeline; Jucker, Tommaso; Phillips, Oliver L.; Bohlman, Stephanie; Banin, Lindsay F.; Lewis, Simon L.; Affum-Baffoe, Kofi; Alves, Luciana F.; Antin, Cecile; Arets, Eric; Arroyo, Luzmila; Baker, Timothy R.; Barbier, Nicolas; Beeckman, Hans; Berger, Uta; Bocko, Yannick Enock; Bongers, Frans; Bowers, Sam; Brade, Thom;
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Aim Tree crowns determine light interception, carbon and water exchange. Thus, understanding the factors causing tree crown allometry to vary at the tree and stand level matters greatly for the development of future vegetation modelling and for the calibration of remote sensing products. Nevertheless, we know little about large-scale variation and determinants in tropical tree crown allometry. In this study, we explored the continental variation in scaling exponents of site-specific crown allometry and assessed their relationships with environmental and stand-level variables in the tropics.Location Global tropics.Time period Early 21st century.Major taxa studied Woody plants.Methods Using a dataset of 87,737 trees distributed among 245 forest and savanna sites across the tropics, we fitted site-specific allometric relationships between crown dimensions (crown depth, diameter and volume) and stem diameter using power-law models. Stand-level and environmental drivers of crown allometric relationships were assessed at pantropical and continental scales.Results The scaling exponents of allometric relationships between stem diameter and crown dimensions were higher in savannas than in forests. We identified that continental crown models were better than pantropical crown models and that continental differences in crown allometric relationships were driven by both stand-level (wood density) and environmental (precipitation, cation exchange capacity and soil texture) variables for both tropical biomes. For a given diameter, forest trees from Asia and savanna trees from Australia had smaller crown dimensions than trees in Africa and America, with crown volumes for some Asian forest trees being smaller than those of trees in African forests.Main conclusions Our results provide new insight into geographical variability, with large continental differences in tropical tree crown allometry that were driven by stand-level and environmental variables. They have implications for the assessment of ecosystem function and for the monitoring of woody biomass by remote sensing techniques in the global tropics.


crown allometry; environment; forest; precipitation; savanna; soil; stand‐level variable; tropical biomes

Published in

Global Ecology and Biogeography

2020, volume: 30, number: 2, pages: 459-475
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Panzou, Grace Jopaul Loubota
University of Exeter
Fayolle, Adeline
University of Liege
Jucker, Tommaso
University of Bristol
Phillips, Oliver L.
University of Leeds
Bohlman, Stephanie
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Lewis, Simon L.
University of Leeds
Bohlman, Stephanie
University of Florida
Banin, Lindsay F.
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Lewis, Simon L.
University of London
Alves, Luciana F.
University of California Los Angeles
Antin, Cecile
Universite de Montpellier
Arets, Eric
Wageningen University and Research
Baker, Timothy R.
University of Leeds
Barbier, Nicolas
Universite de Montpellier
Beeckman, Hans
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Berger, Uta
Technische Universitat Dresden
Bongers, Frans
Wageningen University and Research
Bowers, Sam
University of Edinburgh
Brade, Thom
University of Edinburgh
Brondizio, Eduardo S.
Indiana University Bloomington
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UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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