[en] Common allometric patterns have been reported across the tropics and good performance on independent data was retrieved for the most recent pantropical model predicting tree aboveground biomass (AGB) from stem diameter, wood density and total height. General models are undoubtedly useful for the estimation and monitoring of biomass and carbon stocks in tropical forests, however specific allometry, allocation, and traits, are at the core of many models of vegetation dynamics, and there is lack of such information for some regions and species. In this study, we specifically evaluated how size-dependent changes in above-ground biomass and biomass allocation to crown relate to other allometric and life-history traits for tropical tree species. We gathered destructive data available in eight terra firme forest sites across central Africa and the combined dataset consisted of 1,023 trees belonging to 54 tropical tree species phylogenetically dispersed, with only two congeneric species.
A huge body of field and laboratory measurements was used for computing AGB and crown mass ratio (CMR) at the tree level, and to derive key allometric traits at the species level. For the latter, species-specific relationships between tree diameter and total height, crown exposure to light, wood density, and bark thickness were fitted for 50 species. Our results show interspecific variation in the relationships relating tree diameter to both AGB and CMR, and including species traits in a multi-specific AGB model confirmed that interspecific variation in biomass allometry is primarily determined by species wood density. We also showed that the allocation of biomass to crown increases linearly with tree diameter for most species, and that interspecific variation in the CMR model is associated with the species dispersal mode and maximum height. Trait covariations among our set of tropical tree species widespread and/or locally abundant in central Africa, revealed a continuum between large-statured species, which tended to be light-demanding, deciduous and wind-dispersed, and species with opposite attributes. Information on allometry, allocation, and traits provided here could further be used in comparative ecology and for parameterizing dynamic and succession models. Also importantly, the species-specific AGB models fitted for major tree species, including most timber species of central Africa, will help improve biomass estimates.