Soil fertility and species traits, but not diversity, drive productivity and biomass stocks in a Guyanese tropical rainforest



In this study, we test the effects of abiotic factors (light variation, caused by logging disturbance, and soil fertility) and biotic factors (species richness and functional trait composition) on biomass stocks (aboveground biomass, fine root biomass), SOM and productivity in a relatively monodominant Guyanese tropical rainforest. This forest grows on nutrient-poor soils and has few species that contribute most to total abundance. We therefore expected strong effects of soil fertility and species’ traits that determine resource acquisition and conservation, but not of diversity. We evaluated 6 years of data for 30 0.4-ha plots and tested hypotheses using structural equation models. Our results indicate that light availability (through disturbance) and soil fertility – especially P – strongly limit forest biomass productivity and stocks in this Guyanese forest. Low P availability may cause strong environmental filtering, which in turn results in a small set of dominant species. As a result, community trait composition but not species richness determines productivity and stocks of biomass and SOM in tropical forest on poor soils.
Date made available2017
PublisherWageningen University & Research
Geographical coverageGuyana


  • biomass
  • soil fertility

Cite this