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New Phytol. 2018 Aug;219(3):851-869. doi: 10.1111/nph.15027. Epub 2018 Feb 16.

Drivers and mechanisms of tree mortality in moist tropical forests.

Author information

1
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, 99354, USA.
2
US Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, New Mexico Landscapes Field Station, Los Alamos, NM, 87544, USA.
3
Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Washington, DC, 20036, USA.
4
Conservation Ecology Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA, 22630, USA.
5
Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA, 02450, USA.
6
Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental de Amazonia, Lago Norte, Brasilia, Brazil.
7
School of Geography, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK.
8
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
9
Department of Biology and School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX, 78539, USA.
10
SICCS, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, 86001, USA.
11
Departmento de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad Nacional de Columbia, Medellín, Columbia.
12
Lancaster Environment Center, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK.
13
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, 80305, USA.
14
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
15
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, 87545, USA.
16
Department of Biogeochemical Processes, Max Plank Institute for Biogeochemistry, 07745, Jena, Germany.
17
Geoinformation Programme, Forestry and Environment Division, Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia.
18
International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Jardin Botanico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico.
19
Embrapa Agricultural Informatics, Parque Estacao Biologica, Brasilia DF, 70770, Brazil.
20
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, 91109, USA.
21
Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
22
Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 7 Chome-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo, Tokyo, 113-8654, Japan.
23
Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 2JD, UK.
24
ICREA, CREAF, University of Barcelona, Gran Via de les Corts Catalenes, 585 08007, Barcelona, Spain.
25
Australian National University, Acton, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia.
26
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL, UK.
27
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA.
28
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado Postal, 0843-03092, Panamá, República de Panamá.
29
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112, USA.
30
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, 37830, USA.
31
Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 08544, USA.

Abstract

Tree mortality rates appear to be increasing in moist tropical forests (MTFs) with significant carbon cycle consequences. Here, we review the state of knowledge regarding MTF tree mortality, create a conceptual framework with testable hypotheses regarding the drivers, mechanisms and interactions that may underlie increasing MTF mortality rates, and identify the next steps for improved understanding and reduced prediction. Increasing mortality rates are associated with rising temperature and vapor pressure deficit, liana abundance, drought, wind events, fire and, possibly, CO2 fertilization-induced increases in stand thinning or acceleration of trees reaching larger, more vulnerable heights. The majority of these mortality drivers may kill trees in part through carbon starvation and hydraulic failure. The relative importance of each driver is unknown. High species diversity may buffer MTFs against large-scale mortality events, but recent and expected trends in mortality drivers give reason for concern regarding increasing mortality within MTFs. Models of tropical tree mortality are advancing the representation of hydraulics, carbon and demography, but require more empirical knowledge regarding the most common drivers and their subsequent mechanisms. We outline critical datasets and model developments required to test hypotheses regarding the underlying causes of increasing MTF mortality rates, and improve prediction of future mortality under climate change.

KEYWORDS:

CO2 fertilization; carbon (C) starvation; forest mortality; hydraulic failure; tropical forests

PMID:
29451313
DOI:
10.1111/nph.15027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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