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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Biomass, productivity and allocation patterns in tropical old-growth and logged-over forests in Ghana Addo-Danso, Shalom Daniel


Understanding how tropical forest structure and function change during the decades after logging is a key research challenge. This thesis reports functional traits, forest structure, biomass, net primary productivity (NPP) and allocation, as well as their controlling factors in an old-growth forest and a 54-year-old logged-over forest in Ghana. By analyzing root traits, I found fine-root biomass, root length, surface area, and root tissue density were higher in the logged-over forest, whereas the old-growth forest had higher specific root length and specific root area. I also found divergent exploitation strategies between the two forests; plants in the old-growth forest produced thinner roots, which increase resource uptake efficiency, while plants in the logged-over forest had thicker roots, which are associated with greater resource conservation. Through correlation analysis, I found that fine-root mass correlated positively to relative humidity, while absorbed photosynthetically active radiation and fine-root biomass were also positively correlated. Fine-root mass and soil K were also positively correlated, and fine-root necromass correlated positively with soil P. I then explored the relationships between leaf traits, taxonomic (e.g., species richness) or structural (e.g., tree diameter) variables and aboveground biomass (AGB) or coarse wood productivity (CWP) in the two forests. Leaf K related positively to tree biomass in the logged-over forest. Leaf N and P were significantly and positively related to tree productivity in the old-growth forest and logged-over forest. AGB and CWP were mostly explained by the structural variables. The shape and magnitude of the relationships between tree species richness and AGB or CWP differed between the two forests. In addition, I found that leaf area index, mean tree diameter and height were similar between the two forests, but stand density and basal area were higher in the logged-over forest than in the old-growth forest. Total biomass and annual NPP were comparable in both forests, but there was a shift in NPP allocation between wood and fine roots. I conclude that the forest structure, biomass and productivity of the logged-over forest have largely recovered, but the legacy of logging still persists, which is reflected in differences in functional traits and allocation patterns.

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