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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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Late twentieth-century trends in tree-community composition in an Amazonian forest

Late twentieth-century trends in tree-community composition in an Amazonian forest

Chapter:
(p.97) CHAPTER 9 Late twentieth-century trends in tree-community composition in an Amazonian forest
Source:
Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change
Author(s):

William F. Laurance

Alexandre A. Oliveira

Susan G. Laurance

Richard Condit

Henrique E. M. Nascimento

Ana Andrade

Christopher W. Dick

Ana C. Sanchez-Thorin

Thomas E. Lovejoy

José E. L. S. Ribeiro

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567066.003.0009

The rainforests of central Amazonia are some of the most species-rich tree communities on earth. In recent decades, forests in the central-Amazonian landscape have experienced highly non-random changes in dynamics and composition. These analyses are made on a network of eighteen permanent plots unaffected by any detectable disturbance. Within these plots, tree mortality, recruitment, and growth have increased over time. Of 115 relatively abundant tree genera, twenty-seven changed significantly in density or basal area — a value nearly fourteen times greater than that expected by chance. An independent, eight-year study in nearby forests corroborated these shifts in composition. Despite increasing tree mortality, pioneer trees did not increase in abundance, but genera of faster-growing trees, including many canopy and emergent species, are increasing in dominance or density, whereas genera of slower-growing trees, including many subcanopy species, are declining. Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations may explain these changes, although the effects of this and other large-scale environmental alterations have not been fully explored. These compositional changes could have important effects on the carbon storage, dynamics, and biota of Amazonian forests.

Keywords:   Amazon forests, biomass, carbon dioxide, climate change, floristic composition, forest dynamics, tropical rainforests, tree communities

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