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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

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

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

Oxford University Press

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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