How climate change may be impacting the world's tropical forests

February 22, 2016

New research suggests that multi-year droughts will significantly alter the structure, composition, and dynamics of second-growth tropical forests, which have re-grown after cessation of agricultural activity or a major disturbance such as fire. These second-growth forests represent the prevalent tropical forest cover today.

Investigators combined 14 years of data on annual tree growth and survival with local climate records in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica to evaluate tree responses to inter-annual differences in temperature and dry-season water stress.

"Because tropical forests contain the world's greatest diversity of tree species, identifying the traits that best predict tree responses to changing climatic drivers will be an important step in building models of tropical dynamics," said Dr. Maria Uriarte, lead author of the Functional Ecology study.

The article is part of a Demography Beyond the Population Special Feature that is a unique large-scale ecological collaboration including articles in all six British Ecological Society journals. Its goal is to highlight the potential of demography to connect across scales and inform a broad range of questions in ecology and evolution.

Explore further: New tool helps model forest traits and evolution

More information: María Uriarte et al. A trait-mediated, neighbourhood approach to quantify climate impacts on successional dynamics of tropical rainforests, Functional Ecology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12576

Related Stories

Biodiversity enhances carbon storage of tropical forests

December 2, 2015

Tropical forests store 25% of the global carbon and harbour 96% of the world's tree species. But it was not clear whether this high biodiversity really matters for high carbon storage. Now, researchers of the ROBIN project ...

Recommended for you

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

February 22, 2017

Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.