Net ecosystem CO2 exchange of a primary tropical peat swamp forest in Sarawak, Malaysia

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Angela Tang Che Ing1, Paul C. Stoy1 and Lulie Melling2, (1)Montana State University, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Bozeman, MT, United States, (2)Tropical Peat Research Laboratory Unit, Chief Minister's Department, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Tropical peat swamp forests are widely recognized as one of the world’s most efficient ecosystems for the sequestration and storage of carbon through both their aboveground biomass and underlying thick deposits of peat. As the peat characteristics exhibit high spatial and temporal variability as well as the structural and functional complexity of forests, tropical peat ecosystems can act naturally as both carbon sinks and sources over their life cycles. Nonetheless, few reports of studies on the ecosystem-scale CO2 exchange of tropical peat swamp forests are available to-date and their present roles in the global carbon cycle remain uncertain. To quantify CO2 exchange and unravel the prevailing factors and potential underlying mechanism regulating net CO2 fluxes, an eddy covariance tower was erected in a tropical peat swamp forest in Sarawak, Malaysia. We observed that the diurnal and seasonal patterns of net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) and its components (gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (RE)) varied between seasons and years. Rates of NEE declined in the wet season relative to the dry season. Conversely, both the gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (RE) were found to be higher during the wet season than the dry season, in which GPP was strongly negatively correlated with NEE. The average annual NEE was 385 ± 74 g C m-2 yr-1, indicating the primary peat swamp forest functioned as net source of CO2 to the atmosphere over the observation period.