Douglas Schaefer presenting, with Gbadamassi Dossa and Jill Thompson as co authors.
Global forest litterfall (LF) has been estimated as 8 to 23 petagrams carbon per year. The most recent global LF compilations from 2019 still differ by a factor of 2. This may be the largest terrestrial carbon flux still so poorly resolved, but it is more than that. Trees invest most of their nutrients in photosynthesis, so LF dominates biogeochemical cycling beyond carbon. With deeper literature searches and using networks to access unpublished data, we plan to double the number of data sources compared to those compilations. This work will produce a curated, broad and accessible LF database with many uses.
Other global databases already exist for seasonal climates, net primary productivity, nitrogen fixation, soil mycorrhizae, other soil properties, leaf traits, and root biomass. None have been compared to LF, and many ecological questions will become available for exploration.
Forest dynamics are tracked by networks including ILTER, ForestGEO, GEM, and Fluxnet sites, including those of XTBG. Those sites are spatially limited by costs, and their local ‘footprints’ could be extended with global LF patterns. Global climate/carbon models do not yet well include LF. Global remote sensing of forest structures by radar and LIDAR can also benefit from LF, if presented as spatial patterns that they can assimilate. This large project is underway and we welcome more to join. Dossa in China is using ‘R’ to find publications that do not include ‘litterfall’ in titles or keywords. Thompson in Scotland is using Artificial Intelligence to extract data from text, tables and figures. Overall, this project is poised between past work and future value. We show here that global forest LF needs to be more fully explored.
Speaker: Douglas Schaefer
Affiliation: Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming
Time: Feb. 22, 2022
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