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Vegetation Carbon Storage, Spatial Patterns and Response to Altitude in Lancang River Basin, Southwest China

Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection, National Engineering Research Center for Urban Environmental Pollution Control, Beijing 100037, China
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 110;
Received: 17 September 2015 / Revised: 18 January 2016 / Accepted: 21 January 2016 / Published: 25 January 2016
Vegetation plays a very important role of carbon (C) sinks in the global C cycle. With its complex terrain and diverse vegetation types, the Lancang River Basin (LRB) of southwest China has huge C storage capacity. Therefore, understanding the spatial variations and controlling mechanisms of vegetation C storage is important to understand the regional C cycle. In this study, data from a forest inventory and field plots were used to estimate and map vegetation C storage distribution in the LRB, to qualify the quantitative relationships between vegetation C density and altitude at sublot and township scale, and a linear model or polynomial model was used to identify the relationship between C density and altitude at two spatial scales and two statistical scales. The results showed that a total of 300.32 Tg C was stored in the LRB, an important C sink in China. The majority of C storage was contributed by forests, notably oaks. The vegetation C storage exhibited nonlinear variation with latitudinal gradients. Altitude had tremendous influences on spatial patterns of vegetation C storage of three geomorphological types in the LRB. C storage decreased with increasing altitude at both town and sublot scales in the flat river valley (FRV) region and the mid-low mountains gorge (MMG) region, and first increased then decreased in the alpine gorge (AG) region. This revealed that, in southwest China, altitude changes the latitudinal patterns of vegetation C storage; especially in the AG area, C density in the mid-altitude (3100 m) area was higher than that of adjacent areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon storage; latitude; altitude; slope; Lancang River Basin carbon storage; latitude; altitude; slope; Lancang River Basin
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Chen, L.; Zhang, C.; Xie, G.; Liu, C.; Wang, H.; Li, Z.; Pei, S.; Qiao, Q. Vegetation Carbon Storage, Spatial Patterns and Response to Altitude in Lancang River Basin, Southwest China. Sustainability 2016, 8, 110.

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