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Amazon's forests fail to keep track of climate change

Measurement of Amazon tree growth in forest plot, Peru (2009) Credit: Roel Brienen, University of LeedsA team of more than…

Measurement of Amazon tree growth in forest plot, Peru (2009) Credit: Roel Brienen, University of Leeds

A team of more than 1

00 researchers has evaluated the effects of global warming on thousands of species over the Amazon to discover the winners and losers of 30 years of climate change. Their analysis showed the effects of climate change change the rainforest composition of tree species but not fast enough to stick to the changing environment.

The team, led by the University of Leeds in collaboration with more than 30 institutions around the world, used long-term records from more than one hundred plots as part of the Amazon Forest Inventory Network (RAINFOR) to track the lives of individuals over the Amazon. Their results showed that since the 1980s, the effects of global environmental change – stronger drought, increased temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere – have slowly affected the growth and mortality of specific trees.

In particular, the study found The most moisturizing tree species die more often than other species, and those that fit in to a drier climate could not replace them.

Lead author Dr. Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, from Geography School in Leeds, said: “The ecosystem’s response is behind climate change. The data showed us that the drought that affected the Amazon basin in recent decades had serious consequences for forest makeup, with higher mortality in tree species most prone to drought and not sufficient compensatory growth in species better equipped to survive drier conditions. “

Dying forest in central A mazon, Brazil, 2016 Credit: Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, University of Leeds

The team also found that larger trees – mainly canopy species in the upper levels of the forest – extract small plants. The team’s observations confirm the belief that canopy species would be climate change “winners” because they benefit from increased carbon dioxide, which could enable them to grow faster. This further suggests that higher carbon dioxide concentrations also have a direct impact on rainforest composition and forest dynamics-how forests grow, die and change.

In addition, the study shows that pioneer tree trees grow up rapidly and grow in gaps left when the trees die – benefit from the acceleration of forest dynamics.

Study co-author Oliver Phillips, Professor of Tropical Ecology in Leeds, and Founder of the RAINFOR Network said: “The increase of some pioneer trees, such as the extremely fast-growing Cecropia, is consistent with the observed changes in forest dynamics, which can ultimately be driven by increased carbon dioxide levels. “

Measurement of large trees in central Amazon, Brazil, 2016 Credit: Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, University of Leeds

Coauthor Dr. Kyle Dexter, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “The impact of climate change on forest communities has important implications for the biodiversity of the rainforest. The most vulnerable species of drought are double in danger, as they are typically those limited to fewer places in the Amazon’s heart , which makes them more prone to extinction if this process continues.

“Our results mark the need for strict measures to protect existing intact rain forests. Deforestation for agriculture and livestock is known to intensify drought in this region, which exacerbates the effects already caused by global climate change. “

The Amazon Amazon Forest Composition Response to Climate Change published in Global Change Biology November 8, 2018.

Explore further:
Drought stems tree growth and closes off the Amazon’s coal water, finds researchers

More information:
Amazone Forest Composition Response to Climate Change, Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111 / gcb.14413

Journal Reference:
Global Change Biology

Provided by:
University of Leeds

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