Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

The estimation of carbon budgets of frequently burnt tree stands in savannas of northern Australia, using allometric analysis and isotopic discrimination

G. D. Cook A E , A. C. Liedloff A , R. W. Eager A , X. Chen B , R. J. Williams A , A. P. O’Grady C and L. B. Hutley D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Tropical Savannas Management CRC, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, PMB 44, Winnellie, Darwin, NT 0822, Australia.

B Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Okanagan University College, British Columbia, Canada.

C CRC for Sustainable Hardwood Production, and CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Private Bag 12 Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

D Tropical Savannas Management CRC, Charles Darwin University, NT 0909, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 53(7) 621-630
Submitted: 17 September 2004  Accepted: 17 January 2005   Published: 29 November 2005


The stock, rates of sequestration and allocation of carbon were estimated for trees in 14 0.1-ha plots at Kapalga in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, using new allometric relationships of carbon stock to stem cross-sectional area and measured growth rates of trees. Carbon stocks of trees ranged from 12 to 58 t ha–1, with sequestration representing ~9% of the total stocks. More than half of the sequestered carbon is allocated to leaves and twigs and ~20% to wood. Only ~25% is retained in the live trees with leaf and twig fall accounting for 80%–84% of the total transfers to the environment. An alternative method of calculating sequestration rates from consideration of water use and carbon-isotope discrimination data had a close to 1 : 1 match with estimates from allometric relationships. We developed and applied algorithms to predict the impacts of fire on carbon stocks of live trees. This showed that the reduction in live carbon stocks caused by single fires increased with increasing intensity, but the impact was highly dependent on the tree stand structure.


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