New insights on above ground biomass and forest attributes in tropical montane forests

Despite the potential of tropical montane forests to store and sequester substantial amounts of carbon, little is known about the above ground biomass (AGB) and the factors affecting it in these ecosystems, especially in Africa. We investigated the height-diameter allometry, AGB, and related differences in AGB to taxonomic and structural forest attributes in three distinct forest types (dry, mixed species and elfin) in three mountains of northern Kenya. We established 24 permanent plots (20 m x 100 m) and sampled all trees >= 10 cm diameter following standard Rainfor protocols. We identified that different height-diameter allometric models could be used for different forests types, with the exception of the Michaelis-Menten model. In our study area, model choice had little effects on AGB estimates. In general, mixed forests had greater AGB than other forest types: in Mt Nyiro AGB estimates were 611, 408 and 241 Mg ha(-1) for mixed, elfin and dry forests respectively. Forests in Mt Nyiro, the highest mountain had greater AGB than in the other mountains. In our study area, differences in AGB were related to forest structure attributes, with little influence of taxonomic attributes. The mixed and elfin forests in Mt Nyiro, dominated by Podocarpus latifolius and Faurea saligna contained comparable AGB to lowland rainforests, highlighting the importance of tropical montane forests as large carbon stock, which could be released if converted to another land cover type. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.