Late twentieth-century patterns and trends in Amazon tree turnover
Previous work found that tree turnover, biomass, and large liana densities increased in mature tropical forests in the late 20th century, indicating a concerted shift in forest ecological processes. However, the findings have proved controversial. Here, regional-scale patterns of tree turnover are characterized, using improved datasets available for Amazonia that span the last twenty-five years. The main findings include: trees at least 10 cm in diameter recruit and die twice as fast on the richer soils of western Amazonia compared to trees on the poorer soils of eastern Amazonia; turnover rates have increased throughout Amazonia over the last two decades; mortality and recruitment rates have tended to increase in every region and environmental zone; recruitment rates consistently exceed mortality rates; and increases in recruitment and mortality rates are greatest in western Amazonia. These patterns and trends are not caused by obvious artefacts in the data or the analyses, and cannot be directly driven by a mortality driver such as increased drought because the biomass in these forests has simultaneously increased. Apparently, therefore, widespread environmental changes are stimulating the growth and productivity of Amazon forests.
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