Sensitivity of South American tropical forests to an extreme climate anomaly

Bennett, Amy C. and Rodrigues de Sousa, Thaiane and Monteagudo-Mendoza, Abel and Esquivel-Muelbert, Adriane and Morandi, Paulo S. and Coelho de Souza, Fernanda and Castro, Wendeson and Duque, Luisa Fernanda and Flores Llampazo, Gerardo and Manoel dos Santos, Rubens and Ramos, Eliana and Vilanova Torre, Emilio and Alvarez-Davila, Esteban and Baker, Timothy R. and Costa, Flávia R. C. and Lewis, Simon L. and Marimon, Beatriz S. and Schietti, Juliana and Burban, Benoît and Berenguer, Erika and Araujo-Murakami, Alejandro and Restrepo Correa, Zorayda and Lopez, Wilmar and Delgado Santana, Flávia and Viscarra, Laura Jessica and Elias, Fernando and Vasquez Martinez, Rodolfo and Marimon-Junior, Ben Hur and Galbraith, David and Sullivan, Martin J. P. and Emilio, Thaise and Prestes, Nayane C. C. S. and Barlow, Jos and Alencar Fagundes, Nathalle Cristine and Almeida de Oliveira, Edmar and Alvarez Loayza, Patricia and Alves, Luciana F. and Aparecida Vieira, Simone and Andrade Maia, Vinícius and Aragão, Luiz E. O. C. and Arets, Eric J. M. M. and Arroyo, Luzmila and Bánki, Olaf and Baraloto, Christopher and Barbosa Camargo, Plínio and Barroso, Jorcely and Bento da Silva, Wilder and Bonal, Damien and Borges Miranda Santos, Alisson and Brienen, Roel J. W. and Brown, Foster and Castilho, Carolina V. and Cerruto Ribeiro, Sabina and Chama Moscoso, Victor and Chavez, Ezequiel and Comiskey, James A. and Cornejo Valverde, Fernando and Dávila Cardozo, Nállarett and de Aguiar-Campos, Natália and de Oliveira Melo, Lia and del Aguila Pasquel, Jhon and Derroire, Géraldine and Disney, Mathias and do Socorro, Maria and Dourdain, Aurélie and Feldpausch, Ted R. and Ferreira, Joice and Forni Martins, Valeria and Gardner, Toby and Gloor, Emanuel and Gutierrez Sibauty, Gloria and Guillen, René and Hase, Eduardo and Hérault, Bruno and Honorio Coronado, Eurídice N. and Huaraca Huasco, Walter and Janovec, John P. and Jimenez-Rojas, Eliana and Joly, Carlos and Kalamandeen, Michelle and Killeen, Timothy J. and Lais Farrapo, Camila and Levesley, Aurora and Lizon Romano, Leon and Lopez Gonzalez, Gabriela and Maës dos Santos, Flavio Antonio and Magnusson, William E. and Malhi, Yadvinder and Matias de Almeida Reis, Simone and Melgaço, Karina and Melo Cruz, Omar A. and Mendoza Polo, Irina and Montañez, Tatiana and Morel, Jean Daniel and Núñez Vargas, M Percy and Oliveira de Araújo, Raimunda and Pallqui Camacho, Nadir C. and Parada Gutierrez, Alexander and Pennington, Toby and Pickavance, Georgia C. and Pipoly, John and Pitman, Nigel C. A. and Quesada, Carlos and Ramirez Arevalo, Freddy and Ramírez‐Angulo, Hirma and Flora Ramos, Rafael and Richardson, James E. and Rodrigo de Souza, Cléber and Roopsind, Anand and Schwartz, Gustavo and Silva, Richarlly C. and Silva Espejo, Javier and Silveira, Marcos and Singh, James and Soto Shareva, Yhan and Steininger, Marc and Stropp, Juliana and Talbot, Joey and ter Steege, Hans and Terborgh, John and Thomas, Raquel and Valenzuela Gamarra, Luis and van der Heijden, Geertje and van der Hout, Peter and Zagt, Roderick and Phillips, Oliver L. (2023) Sensitivity of South American tropical forests to an extreme climate anomaly. Nature Climate Change, 13 (9). pp. 967-974. ISSN 1758-678X

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The tropical forest carbon sink is known to be drought sensitive, but it is unclear which forests are the most vulnerable to extreme events. Forests with hotter and drier baseline conditions may be protected by prior adaptation, or more vulnerable because they operate closer to physiological limits. Here we report that forests in drier South American climates experienced the greatest impacts of the 2015–2016 El Niño, indicating greater vulnerability to extreme temperatures and drought. The long-term, ground-measured tree-by-tree responses of 123 forest plots across tropical South America show that the biomass carbon sink ceased during the event with carbon balance becoming indistinguishable from zero (−0.02 ± 0.37 Mg C ha−1 per year). However, intact tropical South American forests overall were no more sensitive to the extreme 2015–2016 El Niño than to previous less intense events, remaining a key defence against climate change as long as they are protected.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Nature Climate Change
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? climate-change ecologyecosystem ecologyforest ecologytropical ecologyenvironmental science (miscellaneous)social sciences (miscellaneous) ??
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Deposited On:
08 Sep 2023 09:45
Last Modified:
18 Jul 2024 17:28