Fine-scale processes shape ecosystem service provision by an Amazonian hyperdominant tree species

Conspecific distance and density-dependence is a key driver of tree diversity in natural forests, but the extent to which this process may influence ecosystem service provision is largely unknown. Drawing on a dataset of >135,000 trees from the Peruvian Amazon, we assessed its manifestation in biomass accumulation and seed production of Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) which plays a keystone role in carbon sequestration and NTFP harvesting in Amazonia. For the first time, we find both negative and positive effects of conspecific proximity on seed production and above ground biomass at small and large nearest neighbour distances, respectively. Plausible explanations for negative effects at small distances are fine-scale genetic structuring and competition for shared resources, whereas positive effects at large distances are likely due to increasing pollen limitation and suboptimal growth conditions. Finally, findings suggest that most field plots in Amazonia used for estimating carbon storage are too small to account for distance and density-dependent effects and hence may be inadequate for measuring species-centric ecosystem services.

Author(s): Thomas, E.; Atkinson, R.; Kettle, C.

Year: 2018