This lecture is organised by the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests
Speaker: Dr Lucy Rowland, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter
Summary: Increasing drought frequency and intensity are thought to be key climatic threats facing tropical forests this century. During severe drought, trees are at risk of mortality through a combination of processes including deterioration of hydraulic function and carbon limitation. Understanding what triggers the process of tree mortality is vital if we are to understand how tropical forests will respond to climate change. We present new results from a unique long-running rain fall exclusion experiment in Brazil. The study compares replicate species on a control and droughted plot that have either experienced a normal climate or a long term reduction in through-fall of 50%. We find differing mortality risks in two groups of trees, that have been found to be either drought resistant or sensitive. Using a series of detailed eco-physiological measurements we also demonstrate that the process of forest decline during drought is guided by hydraulic deterioration, rather than a limitation in carbon supply. This process of decline can be shown to have significant consequences for the cycling of both carbon and water within tropical forests exposed to prolonged drought stress.
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