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Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change$
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Yadvinder Malhi and Oliver Phillips

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567066.001.0001

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Predicting the impacts of global environmental changes on tropical forests

Predicting the impacts of global environmental changes on tropical forests

(p.41) CHAPTER 4 Predicting the impacts of global environmental changes on tropical forests
Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change

Simon L. Lewis

Yadvinder Malhi

Oliver L. Phillips

Oxford University Press

Recent observations of widespread changes in mature tropical forests such as a rise in tree growth, recruitment and mortality, and above-ground biomass, suggest that ‘global change’ agents may be affecting tropical forests far from the deforestation fronts. However, consensus has yet to emerge over the robustness of these changes and the environmental drivers that may be causing them. This chapter focuses on the second part of this debate. Ten potential widespread drivers of environmental change are identified: temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, climatic extremes (including El Niñno-Southern Oscillation events), atmospheric CO2 concentrations, nutrient deposition, O3/acid depositions, hunting, land-use change, and increasing liana numbers. Each is expected to leave a unique ‘fingerprint’ in tropical forests, as drivers directly force different processes, have different distributions in space and time and may affect some forests more than others (e.g., depending on soil fertility). Testable a priori predictions of forest responses are presented to help ecologists attribute particular changes in forests to particular causes. Finally, this chapter discusses how these drivers may change and the possible future consequences for tropical forests.

Keywords:   global change, tropical forest, growth, biomass, environmental drivers, carbon dioxide, climate change, soil fertility, land-use change

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