103 research outputs found

    Evolutionary Heritage Influences Amazon Tree Ecology

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    Lineages tend to retain ecological characteristics of their ancestors through time. However, for some traits, selection during evolutionary history may have also played a role in determining trait values. To address the relative importance of these processes requires large-scale quantification of traits and evolutionary relationships among species. The Amazonian tree flora comprises a high diversity of angiosperm lineages and species with widely differing life-history characteristics, providing an excellent system to investigate the combined influences of evolutionary heritage and selection in determining trait variation. We used trait data related to the major axes of life-history variation among tropical trees (e.g. growth and mortality rates) from 577 inventory plots in closed-canopy forest, mapped onto a phylogenetic hypothesis spanning more than 300 genera including all major angiosperm clades to test for evolutionary constraints on traits. We found significant phylogenetic signal (PS) for all traits, consistent with evolutionarily related genera having more similar characteristics than expected by chance. Although there is also evidence for repeated evolution of pioneer and shade tolerant life-history strategies within independent lineages, the existence of significant PS allows clearer predictions of the links between evolutionary diversity, ecosystem function and the response of tropical forests to global change

    Evolutionary Heritage Influences Amazon Tree Ecology

    Get PDF
    Lineages tend to retain ecological characteristics of their ancestors through time. However, for some traits, selection during evolutionary history may have also played a role in determining trait values. To address the relative importance of these processes requires large-scale quantification of traits and evolutionary relationships among species. The Amazonian tree flora comprises a high diversity of angiosperm lineages and species with widely differing life-history characteristics, providing an excellent system to investigate the combined influences of evolutionary heritage and selection in determining trait variation. We used trait data related to the major axes of life-history variation among tropical trees (e.g. growth and mortality rates) from 577 inventory plots in closed-canopy forest, mapped onto a phylogenetic hypothesis spanning more than 300 genera including all major angiosperm clades to test for evolutionary constraints on traits. We found significant phylogenetic signal (PS) for all traits, consistent with evolutionarily related genera having more similar characteristics than expected by chance. Although there is also evidence for repeated evolution of pioneer and shade tolerant life-history strategies within independent lineages, the existence of significant PS allows clearer predictions of the links between evolutionary diversity, ecosystem function and the response of tropical forests to global change

    Hyperdominance in Amazonian Forest Carbon Cycling

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    While Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, the abundance of trees is skewed strongly towards relatively few ‘hyperdominant’ species. In addition to their diversity, Amazonian trees are a key component of the global carbon cycle, assimilating and storing more carbon than any other ecosystem on Earth. Here we ask, using a unique data set of 530 forest plots, if the functions of storing and producing woody carbon are concentrated in a small number of tree species, whether the most abundant species also dominate carbon cycling, and whether dominant species are characterized by specific functional traits. We find that dominance of forest function is even more concentrated in a few species than is dominance of tree abundance, with only ≈1% of Amazon tree species responsible for 50% of carbon storage and productivity. Although those species that contribute most to biomass and productivity are often abundant, species maximum size is also influential, while the identity and ranking of dominant species varies by function and by region

    Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species

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    Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%. We show that the trends observed in Amazonia apply to trees throughout the tropics, and we predict thatmost of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened. A gap analysis suggests that existing Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories will protect viable populations of most threatened species if these areas suffer no further degradation, highlighting the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century

    Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species

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    Evenness mediates the global relationship between forest productivity and richness

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    1. Biodiversity is an important component of natural ecosystems, with higher species richness often correlating with an increase in ecosystem productivity. Yet, this relationship varies substantially across environments, typically becoming less pronounced at high levels of species richness. However, species richness alone cannot reflect all important properties of a community, including community evenness, which may mediate the relationship between biodiversity and productivity. If the evenness of a community correlates negatively with richness across forests globally, then a greater number of species may not always increase overall diversity and productivity of the system. Theoretical work and local empirical studies have shown that the effect of evenness on ecosystem functioning may be especially strong at high richness levels, yet the consistency of this remains untested at a global scale. 2. Here, we used a dataset of forests from across the globe, which includes composition, biomass accumulation and net primary productivity, to explore whether productivity correlates with community evenness and richness in a way that evenness appears to buffer the effect of richness. Specifically, we evaluated whether low levels of evenness in speciose communities correlate with the attenuation of the richness–productivity relationship. 3. We found that tree species richness and evenness are negatively correlated across forests globally, with highly speciose forests typically comprising a few dominant and many rare species. Furthermore, we found that the correlation between diversity and productivity changes with evenness: at low richness, uneven communities are more productive, while at high richness, even communities are more productive. 4. Synthesis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that evenness is an integral component of the relationship between biodiversity and productivity, and that the attenuating effect of richness on forest productivity might be partly explained by low evenness in speciose communities. Productivity generally increases with species richness, until reduced evenness limits the overall increases in community diversity. Our research suggests that evenness is a fundamental component of biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships, and is of critical importance for guiding conservation and sustainable ecosystem management decisions

    The global biogeography of tree leaf form and habit

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    Understanding what controls global leaf type variation in trees is crucial for comprehending their role in terrestrial ecosystems, including carbon, water and nutrient dynamics. Yet our understanding of the factors influencing forest leaf types remains incomplete, leaving us uncertain about the global proportions of needle-leaved, broadleaved, evergreen and deciduous trees. To address these gaps, we conducted a global, ground-sourced assessment of forest leaf-type variation by integrating forest inventory data with comprehensive leaf form (broadleaf vs needle-leaf) and habit (evergreen vs deciduous) records. We found that global variation in leaf habit is primarily driven by isothermality and soil characteristics, while leaf form is predominantly driven by temperature. Given these relationships, we estimate that 38% of global tree individuals are needle-leaved evergreen, 29% are broadleaved evergreen, 27% are broadleaved deciduous and 5% are needle-leaved deciduous. The aboveground biomass distribution among these tree types is approximately 21% (126.4 Gt), 54% (335.7 Gt), 22% (136.2 Gt) and 3% (18.7 Gt), respectively. We further project that, depending on future emissions pathways, 17-34% of forested areas will experience climate conditions by the end of the century that currently support a different forest type, highlighting the intensification of climatic stress on existing forests. By quantifying the distribution of tree leaf types and their corresponding biomass, and identifying regions where climate change will exert greatest pressure on current leaf types, our results can help improve predictions of future terrestrial ecosystem functioning and carbon cycling

    The global biogeography of tree leaf form and habit.

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    Understanding what controls global leaf type variation in trees is crucial for comprehending their role in terrestrial ecosystems, including carbon, water and nutrient dynamics. Yet our understanding of the factors influencing forest leaf types remains incomplete, leaving us uncertain about the global proportions of needle-leaved, broadleaved, evergreen and deciduous trees. To address these gaps, we conducted a global, ground-sourced assessment of forest leaf-type variation by integrating forest inventory data with comprehensive leaf form (broadleaf vs needle-leaf) and habit (evergreen vs deciduous) records. We found that global variation in leaf habit is primarily driven by isothermality and soil characteristics, while leaf form is predominantly driven by temperature. Given these relationships, we estimate that 38% of global tree individuals are needle-leaved evergreen, 29% are broadleaved evergreen, 27% are broadleaved deciduous and 5% are needle-leaved deciduous. The aboveground biomass distribution among these tree types is approximately 21% (126.4 Gt), 54% (335.7 Gt), 22% (136.2 Gt) and 3% (18.7 Gt), respectively. We further project that, depending on future emissions pathways, 17-34% of forested areas will experience climate conditions by the end of the century that currently support a different forest type, highlighting the intensification of climatic stress on existing forests. By quantifying the distribution of tree leaf types and their corresponding biomass, and identifying regions where climate change will exert greatest pressure on current leaf types, our results can help improve predictions of future terrestrial ecosystem functioning and carbon cycling

    Evenness mediates the global relationship between forest productivity and richness

    Get PDF
    1. Biodiversity is an important component of natural ecosystems, with higher species richness often correlating with an increase in ecosystem productivity. Yet, this relationship varies substantially across environments, typically becoming less pronounced at high levels of species richness. However, species richness alone cannot reflect all important properties of a community, including community evenness, which may mediate the relationship between biodiversity and productivity. If the evenness of a community correlates negatively with richness across forests globally, then a greater number of species may not always increase overall diversity and productivity of the system. Theoretical work and local empirical studies have shown that the effect of evenness on ecosystem functioning may be especially strong at high richness levels, yet the consistency of this remains untested at a global scale. 2. Here, we used a dataset of forests from across the globe, which includes composition, biomass accumulation and net primary productivity, to explore whether productivity correlates with community evenness and richness in a way that evenness appears to buffer the effect of richness. Specifically, we evaluated whether low levels of evenness in speciose communities correlate with the attenuation of the richness–productivity relationship. 3. We found that tree species richness and evenness are negatively correlated across forests globally, with highly speciose forests typically comprising a few dominant and many rare species. Furthermore, we found that the correlation between diversity and productivity changes with evenness: at low richness, uneven communities are more productive, while at high richness, even communities are more productive. 4. Synthesis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that evenness is an integral component of the relationship between biodiversity and productivity, and that the attenuating effect of richness on forest productivity might be partly explained by low evenness in speciose communities. Productivity generally increases with species richness, until reduced evenness limits the overall increases in community diversity. Our research suggests that evenness is a fundamental component of biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships, and is of critical importance for guiding conservation and sustainable ecosystem management decisions

    Long-term thermal sensitivity of Earth’s tropical forests

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    The sensitivity of tropical forest carbon to climate is a key uncertainty in predicting global climate change. Although short-term drying and warming are known to affect forests, it is unknown if such effects translate into long-term responses. Here, we analyze 590 permanent plots measured across the tropics to derive the equilibrium climate controls on forest carbon. Maximum temperature is the most important predictor of aboveground biomass (−9.1 megagrams of carbon per hectare per degree Celsius), primarily by reducing woody productivity, and has a greater impact per °C in the hottest forests (>32.2°C). Our results nevertheless reveal greater thermal resilience than observations of short-term variation imply. To realize the long-term climate adaptation potential of tropical forests requires both protecting them and stabilizing Earth’s climate
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