November 29, 2023

How Tree Diversity Can Help Fight Climate Change

A study evaluating Canadas National Forest Inventory information exposes that protecting forest diversity improves performance and improves soil carbon and nitrogen build-up, benefiting soil fertility and mitigating environment modification. The research study suggests that increased tree variety can raise soil carbon storage by 30-32% and nitrogen storage by 42-50% over a decade, emphasizing the significance of biodiversity conservation in forests for carbon and nitrogen sequestration.
Guaranteeing the conservation of forest variety guarantees their performance and holds the possible to boost the accumulation of carbon and nitrogen in the soil. This, in turn, assists maintain soil fertility and combat worldwide environment change.
Thats the primary takeaway from a brand-new research study that examined data from hundreds of plots in Canadas National Forest Inventory to examine the relationship between tree variety and changes in soil carbon and nitrogen in natural forests.
Various biodiversity-manipulation experiments have actually jointly suggested that greater tree diversity can cause higher build-up of carbon and nitrogen in forest soils. But the brand-new study, released online April 26 in the journal Nature, is the very first to reveal a similar result in natural forests, according to the authors.

The researchers used a statistical method called structural equation modeling to assess relationships between tree diversity and soil carbon and nitrogen accumulation. They found that increased tree diversity enhanced soil carbon storage by 30% to 32% and improved nitrogen storage by 42% to 50% on a decadal timescale.
” Our study, for the very first time, shows the sustained benefits of tree variety in saving soil carbon and nitrogen in natural forests,” said research study lead author Xinli Chen, a postdoctoral exchange fellow at U-Ms Institute for Global Change Biology and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta.
” Our results highlight that promoting tree diversity not just increases performance but also mitigates global climate change and reduces soil degradation. And the size of the diversity dividend is big. It reinforces the importance of biodiversity preservation in forests and will assist the growing efforts to use forests for carbon and nitrogen sequestration.”
The researchers determined changes in soil carbon and nitrogen storage in time by comparing data from two National Forest Inventory sample-plot censuses, one from 2000-2006 and the other from 2008-2017.
They quantified tree variety as species richness, species consistency, and– on the basis of trees practical traits– functional diversity.
Species richness is the number of tree species in a sample plot, while species consistency is a procedure of the relative abundances of tree types. Functional diversity is the variety of practical traits– such as leaf nitrogen content and adult tree height– of tree species within a neighborhood.
The research study team found that increasing species evenness from its minimum to its optimum value boosted carbon storage in the natural soil layer by 30% and nitrogen storage by 42%. Increasing the functional variety of trees to its optimum value enhanced carbon storage in the soil mineral layer by 32% and nitrogen storage by 50%.
” We find that higher tree diversity is associated with higher soil carbon and nitrogen accumulation, verifying inferences from biodiversity-manipulation experiments,” stated research study co-author Peter Reich, a forest ecologist and director of the Institute for Global Change Biology, which is part of U-Ms School for Environment and Sustainability.
” A greater diversity of types translates into a mixture of various types of trees with different methods of storing and obtaining biomass– both in live trunks, roots, branches, and leaves and in decaying and recently dead plant fragments on and in the soil.”
Canadas National Forest Inventory database is based on a network of plots covering much of the countrys landmass. The brand-new research study evaluated organic soil horizon samples from 361 plots and mineral soil horizon samples from 245 plots.
Those plots are house to numerous species of fir, maple, birch, spruce, pine, poplar, cedar, and hemlock, to name a few tree types.
Forest soils play a crucial role in sequestering carbon extracted from planet-warming co2 gas during photosynthesis. Those soils shop at least 3 times as much carbon as living plants do.
Nitrogen is an important nutrient that drives carbon assimilation and plant development in forest communities. Plant variety is quickly declining internationally, causing the degradation of environment function, consisting of the function of soils.
Recommendation: “Tree diversity increases decadal forest soil carbon and nitrogen accrual” by Xinli Chen, Anthony R. Taylor, Peter B. Reich, Masumi Hisano, Han Y. H. Chen and Scott X. Chang, 26 April 2023, Nature.DOI: 10.1038/ s41586-023-05941-9.
The other authors of the Nature research study are Anthony Taylor of the University of New Brunswick, Masumi Hisano of the University of Tokyo, Han Chen of Lakehead University, and Scott Chang of the University of Alberta and Zhejiang A&F University.
The research study was funded by the Discovery Grants program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Research Fund, the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundations Biological Integration Institutes.