Environmental control of natural gap size distribution in tropical forests

Goulamoussene Youven, Bedeau Caroline, Descroix Laurent, Linguet Laurent, Herault Bruno. 2017. Environmental control of natural gap size distribution in tropical forests. Biogeosciences Discussions, 14 (2) : pp. 353-364.

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Abstract : Natural disturbances are the dominant form of forest regeneration and dynamics in unmanaged tropical forests. Monitoring the size distribution of treefall gaps is important to better understand and predict the carbon budget in response to land use and other global changes. In this study, we model the size frequency distribution of natural canopy gaps with a discrete power law distribution. We use a Bayesian framework to introduce and test, using Monte Carlo Markov Chain and Kuo-Mallick algorithms, the effect of local physical environment on gap size distribution. We apply our methodological framework to an original Light Detecting and Ranging dataset in which natural forest gaps were delineated over 30000 ha of unmanaged forest. We highlight strong links between gap size distribution and environment, primarily hydrological conditions and topography, with large gaps being more frequent in floodplains and on hillslopes. In the future, we plan scale up testing of our methodology using satellite data. Additionally, although gap size distribution variation is clearly under environmental control, gap process variation over time should be tested against climate variability. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Forêt, forêt tropicale, séquestration du carbone, Écosystème forestier, Régénération naturelle, Dynamique des populations, Déboisement, Méthode statistique, Modèle mathématique, Changement climatique, Topographie

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Guyane française

Mots-clés complémentaires : Clairière

Classification Agris : K01 - Forestry - General aspects
F40 - Plant ecology
P01 - Nature conservation and land resources
P40 - Meteorology and climatology
U10 - Computer science, mathematics and statistics

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2014-2018) - Sociétés, natures et territoires

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Goulamoussene Youven, UAG (GUF)
  • Bedeau Caroline, ONF (GUF)
  • Descroix Laurent, ONF (GUF)
  • Linguet Laurent, UAG (GUF)
  • Herault Bruno, CIRAD-ES-UMR Ecofog (GUF) ORCID: 0000-0002-6950-7286

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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