Regional scale variation in forest structure and biomass in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: effects of forest disturbance
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): T. Urquiza-Haas; P. M. Dolman; C. A. Peres
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • agriculture
  • biomass
  • biomass accumulation rate
  • carbon
  • clearcutting
  • disturbance
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • forest perturbation
  • forest structure
  • land use
  • logging
  • Mexico
  • old growth forests
  • population density
  • slash and burn
  • soil moisture
  • soils
  • statistical analysis
  • succession
  • tropical forests
  • wildfires
  • wood
  • wood specific gravity
  • woody plants
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 46801
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22609
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Aboveground biomass is a key variable in understanding the role of tropical forests in the global carbon cycle. The forests of the Yucatan Peninsula form part of the largest remaining tract of Mesoamerican forests, where the predominant land use is still slash-and-bum agriculture. Previous estimates of aboveground live phytomass of late-successional forests in this region vary almost twofold, but are derived from relatively few forest plots. We estimate aboveground forest biomass using data from 243 inventoried forest plots (totalling 58.5 ha), ranging across a disturbance gradient from nearly intact to severely degraded forests. We assess the effects of environmental and disturbance variables on forest basal area, stand-level wood specific gravity and aboveground biomass. Major differences in basal area and aboveground biomass were explained by levels of human disturbance (clear-cutting, logging, and fire disturbance), whereas edaphic factors played only a minor role. Total mean phytomass density estimates ranged from 28.8 ± 3.8 mg ha-1 in plots aged 10-15 years to 191.9 ± 9.5 mg ha-1 in undisturbed old-growth forest plots (>50 years). Severe logging and fire disturbance reduced AGB in late- successional plots (30-50 years) by 36% and 37%, respectively. Stand-level wood specific gravity increased with succession, due to an increase in the proportion of total basal area contributed by high wood density genera. Logging intensity had a small additional effect on stand-level wood specific gravity. Incorporating stand-level wood specific gravity into the algorithm explained only an additional 4% of the variation in estimates of aboveground biomass, which was largely determined by basal area. However, ignoring plot-level variation in wood specific gravity resulted in overestimates of 19% in plots aged 10-15 years. Our aboveground biomass estimates were highly comparable with previous studies using the same allometric equations, and fell within the highest range of estimates reported for tropical dry forests. Forest of this region still retains a significant carbon stock, but rates of biomass recovery (2.8 ± 0.2S.E. Mg ha-1 year-1 were low compared to other neotropical forests. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Urquiza-Haas, T., P. M. Dolman, and C. A. Peres. 2007. Regional scale variation in forest structure and biomass in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: effects of forest disturbance. Forest Ecology and Management, v. 247, no. 1-3, p. 80-90. 10.1016/j.foreco.2007.04.015.