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Am Nat. 2009 Jan;173(1):113-8. doi: 10.1086/593307.

Vegetation responses to extreme hydrological events: sequence matters.

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  • 1South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida 33406, USA.


Extreme hydrological events such as flood and drought drive vegetation dynamics and are projected to increase in frequency in association with climate change, which could result in sequences of extreme events. However, experimental studies of vegetation responses to climate have largely focused on responses to a trend in climate or to a single extreme event but have largely overlooked the potential for complex responses to specific sequences of extreme events. Here we document, on the basis of an experiment with seedlings of three types of subtropical wetland tree species, that mortality can be amplified and growth can even be stimulated, depending on event sequence. Our findings indicate that the impacts of multiple extreme events cannot be modeled by simply summing the projected effects of individual extreme events but, rather, that models should take into account event sequences.

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