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New Phytol. 2010 Aug;187(3):579-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03309.x. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

Effect of 7 yr of experimental drought on vegetation dynamics and biomass storage of an eastern Amazonian rainforest.

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Universidade Federal do Pará, Centro de Geociências, Belém, Pará, Brazil.


*At least one climate model predicts severe reductions of rainfall over Amazonia during this century. Long-term throughfall exclusion (TFE) experiments represent the best available means to investigate the resilience of the Amazon rainforest to such droughts. *Results are presented from a 7 yr TFE study at Caxiuanã National Forest, eastern Amazonia. We focus on the impacts of the drought on tree mortality, wood production and above-ground biomass. *Tree mortality in the TFE plot over the experimental period was 2.5% yr(-1), compared with 1.25% yr(-1) in a nearby control plot experiencing normal rainfall. Differences in stem mortality between plots were greatest in the largest (> 40 cm diameter at breast height (dbh)) size class (4.1% yr(-1) in the TFE and 1.4% yr(-1) in the control). Wood production in the TFE plot was c. 30% lower than in the control plot. Together, these changes resulted in a loss of 37.8 +/- 2.0 Mg carbon (C) ha(-1) in the TFE plot (2002-2008), compared with no change in the control. *These results are remarkably consistent with those from another TFE (at Tapajós National Forest), suggesting that eastern Amazonian forests may respond to prolonged drought in a predictable manner.

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