The conservation of tropical forest carbon stocks offers the opportunity to curb climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and simultaneously conserve biodiversity. However, there has been considerable debate about the extent to which carbon storage will provide benefits to biodiversity in part because whether forests that contain high carbon density in their aboveground biomass also contain high animal diversity is unknown. Here, we empirically examined medium to large bodied ground-dwelling mammal and bird (hereafter "ground-dwelling endotherm") diversity and carbon stock levels within the tropics using camera trap and vegetation data from a pantropical network of sites. Specifically, we tested whether tropical forests that stored more carbon contained higher ground-dwelling endotherm species richness, taxonomic diversity and trait diversity. We found that carbon storage was not a significant predictor for any of these three measures of diversity, which suggests that benefits for ground-dwelling endotherm diversity will not be maximized unless endotherm diversity is explicitly taken into account; prioritizing carbon storage alone will not necessarily meet biodiversity conservation goals. We recommend conservation planning that considers both objectives because there is the potential for more terrestrial endotherm diversity and carbon storage to be achieved for the same total budget if both objectives are pursued in tandem rather than independently. Tropical forests with low elevation variability and low tree density supported significantly higher ground-dwelling endotherm diversity. These tropical forest characteristics may provide more affordable proxies of ground-dwelling endotherm diversity for future multi-objective conservation planning when fine scale data on wildlife are lacking.
Beaudrot, L., Kroetz, K., Alvarez-Loayza, P., Amaral, I., Breuer, T., Fletcher, C. D., Jansen, P. A., Kenfack, D., & Andelman, S. (2016). Limited carbon and biodiversity co-benefits for tropical forest mammals and birds. Ecological Applications, 26(4), 1098-1111. https://doi.org/10.1890/15-0935