Just 1 percent of Amazon’s trees hold half of its carbon

Big, abundant species outweigh their neighbors when it comes to keeping greenhouse gases out of the air

Amazon rainforest

THE 1 PERCENT  The trees of the Amazon rainforest hold a lot of carbon, but around half of the rainforest’s carbon storage is wrapped up in just 1 percent of its tree species.

Andreas Kay/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Amazon rainforest holds more carbon than any other ecosystem, but only a handful of tree species do most of the work of keeping carbon out of the air. Surveying 530 areas throughout the rainforest, researchers found that roughly 1 percent of Amazonian tree species handle half of the forest’s carbon storage.

The Amazon holds about 17 percent of the carbon contained in land plants worldwide. While the forest hosts an estimated 16,000 tree species, the research team identified roughly 150 large, abundant species that remove the most carbon from the air.


More Stories from Science News on Ecosystems