Spatial patterns of above-ground structure, biomass and composition in a network of six Andean elevation transects

Cécile A.J. Girardin, William Farfan-Rios, Karina Garcia, Keneth J. Feeley, Peter M. Jørgensen, Alejandro Araujo Murakami, Leslie Cayola Pérez, Renate Seidel, Narel Paniagua, Alfredo F. Fuentes Claros, Carla Maldonado, Miles Silman, Norma Salinas, Carlos Reynel, David A. Neill, Martha Serrano, Carlos J. Caballero, María de los Angeles La Torre Cuadros, Maria J. Macía, Timothy J. KilleenYadvinder Malhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background: The Amazon to Andes transition zone provides large expanses of relatively pristine forest wilderness across environmental gradients. Such elevational gradients are an excellent natural laboratory for establishing long-term interactions between forest ecosystems and environmental parameters, which is valuable for understanding ecosystem responses to environmental change. Aims: This study presents data on elevational trends of forest structure (biomass, basal area, height, stem density), species richness, and composition from six elevational transects in the Andes. Methods: We analysed the spatial patterns of forest structure, above-ground biomass and composition from 76 permanent plots, ranging from lowland Amazonian rain forest to high-elevation cloud forests in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Results: Forest above-ground woody biomass stocks ranged from 247 Mg ha-1 (Peru, 210 m) to 86 Mg ha-1 (Peru, 3450 m), with significantly decreasing trends of tree height and biomass and an increasing trend of stem density with increasing elevation. We observed an increase in forest richness at three taxonomic levels at mid-elevation, followed by a decrease in richness within the cloud immersion zone. Conclusions: The transects show an increase in stem density, a decline in tree height and above-ground coarse wood biomass and a hump-shaped trend in species richness with increasing elevation. These results suggest that environmental change could lead to significant shifts in the properties of these ecosystems over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Ecology and Diversity
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Andes
  • biomass
  • ecophysiology
  • elevation gradient
  • forest composition
  • precipitation
  • temperature
  • tropical montane forests


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial patterns of above-ground structure, biomass and composition in a network of six Andean elevation transects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this