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Carbon fractions in the world’s dead wood

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Martin, Adam R.; Domke, Grant M.; Doraisami, Mahendra ; Thomas, Sean C.

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Nature Communications


A key uncertainty in quantifying dead wood carbon (C) stocks—which comprise ~8% of total forest C pools globally—is a lack of accurate dead wood C fractions (CFs) that are employed to convert dead woody biomass into C. Most C estimation protocols utilize a default dead wood CF of 50%, but live tree studies suggest this value is an over-estimate. Here, we compile and analyze a global database of dead wood CFs in trees, showing that dead wood CFs average 48.5% across forests, deviating significantly from 50%, and varying systematically among biomes, taxonomic divisions, tissue types, and decay classes. Utilizing datadriven dead wood CFs in tropical forests alone may correct systematic overestimates in dead wood C stocks of ~3.0 Pg C: an estimate approaching nearly the entire dead wood C pool in the temperate forest biome. We provide for the first time, robust empirical dead wood CFs to inform global forest C estimation.


Carbon accounting; coarse woody debris; forest; greenhouse gas inventory; tree; wood carbon; wood trait; wood chemistry


Martin, Adam R.; Domke, Grant M.; Doraisami, Mahendra; Thomas, Sean C. 2021. Carbon fractions in the world’s dead wood. Nature Communications. 12(1): 4382. 9 p.

Last updated on: February 23, 2021