Shifting dynamics of climate-functional groups in old-growth Amazonian forests

Butt, Nathalie, Malhi, Yadvinder, New, Mark, Macia, Manuel J., Lewis, Simon, López-González, Gabriela, Laurance, William F., Laurance, Susan, Luizão, Regina, Andrade, Ana, Baker, Timothy R., Almeida, Samual, and Phillips, Oliver L. (2014) Shifting dynamics of climate-functional groups in old-growth Amazonian forests. Plant Ecology and Diversity, 7 (1-2). pp. 267-279.

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Abstract

Background: Climate change is driving ecosystem shifts, which has implications for tropical forest system function and productivity.

Aim: To investigate Amazon forest dynamics and test for compositional changes between 1985 and 2005 across different plant groups.

Methods: Tree census data from 46 long-term RAINFOR forest plots in Amazonia for three climate-functional groups were used: dry-affiliate, climate-generalist and wet affiliate. Membership of each group was ascribed at genus level from the distribution of individuals across a wet–dry gradient in Amazonia, and then used to determine whether the proportions of these functional groups have changed over time, and the direction of any change.

Results: In total, 91 genera, representing 59% of the stems and 18% of genera in the plots, were analysed. Wet-affiliates tended to move from a state of net basal area gain towards dynamic equilibrium, defined as where gain ≈ loss, governed by an increase in loss rather than a decrease in growth and mainly driven by plots in north-west Amazonia, the wettest part of the region. Dry-affiliates remained in a state of strong net basal area gain across western Amazonia and showed a strong increase in stem recruitment. Wet-affiliates and climate-generalists showed increases in stem mortality, and climate-generalists showed increased stem recruitment, resulting in overall equilibrium of stem numbers.

Conclusions: While there were no significant shifts in most genera, the results suggest an overall shift in climate-functional forest composition in western Amazonia away from wet-affiliates, and potential for increased forest persistence under projected drier conditions in the future.

Item ID: 24673
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1755-0874
Keywords: climate trends, forest composition, moisture affiliation, moisture seasonality, tropical forest
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2013 05:13
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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