In high-standing islands of the Western Pacific, typhoon-triggered landslides occasionally strip parts of the landscape of its vegetative cover and soil layer and export large amounts of biomass and soil organic carbon (OC) from land to the ocean. After such disturbances, new vegetation colonizes the landslide scars and OC starts to re-accumulate. In the subtropical mountains of Taiwan and in other parts of the world, bamboo (Bambusoideae) species may invade at a certain point in the succession of recovering landslide scars. Bamboo has a high potential for carbon sequestration because of its fast growth and dense rooting system. However, it is still largely unknown how these properties translate into soil OC re-accumulation rates after landslide disturbance. In this study, a chronosequence was established on four former landslide scars in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan, ranging in age from 6 to 41years post disturbance as determined by landslide mapping from remote sensing. The younger landslide scars were colonized by Miscanthus floridulus, while after approx. 15 to 20years of succession, bamboo species (Phyllostachys) were dominating. Biomass and soil OC stocks were measured on the recovering landslide scars and compared to an undisturbed Cryptomeria japonica forest stand in the area. After initially slow re-vegetation, biomass carbon accumulated in Miscanthus stands with mean annual accretion rates of 2±0.5MgCha−1yr−1. Biomass carbon continued to increase after bamboo invasion and reached ~40% of that in the reference forest site after 41years of landslide recovery. Soil OC accumulation rates were ~2.0MgCha−1yr−1, 6 to 41years post disturbance reaching ~64% of the level in the reference forest. Our results from this in-situ study suggest that recovering landslide scars are strong carbon sinks once an initial lag period of vegetation re-establishment is overcome.
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