Oldest trees are growing faster, storing more carbon as they age, study reports

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Posted on January 16, 2014
Oldest trees are growing faster, storing more carbon as they age, study reports

The world’s biggest trees – such as this large Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in the Sierra de Baza of southern Spain – are also the world’s fastest-growing trees, according to an analysis of 403 tree species spanning six continents. Credit: Asier Herrero
In a finding that overturns the conventional view that large old trees are unproductive, scientists have determined that for most species, the biggest trees increase their growth rates and sequester more carbon as they age.

In a letter published today in the journal Nature, an international research group reports that 97 percent of 403 tropical and temperate species grow more quickly the older they get. The study was led by Nate L. Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center. Three Oregon State University researchers are co-authors: Mark Harmon and Rob Pabst of the College of Forestry and Duncan Thomas of the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The researchers reviewed records from studies on six continents. Their conclusions are based on repeated measurements of 673,046 individual trees, some going back more than 80 years.

This study would not have been possible, Harmon said, without long-term records of individual tree growth. “It was remarkable how we were able to examine this question on a global level, thanks to the sustained efforts of many programs and individuals.”

Read more at: Phys.org