The sensitivity of wet and dry tropical forests to climate change in Bolivia

C. Seiler*, R.W.A. Hutjes, B. Kruijt, T. Hickler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Bolivia's forests contribute to the global carbon and water cycle, as well as to global biodiversity. The survival of these forests may be at risk due to climate change. To explore the associated mechanisms and uncertainties, a regionally adapted dynamic vegetation model was implemented for the Bolivian case, and forced with two contrasting climate change projections. Changes in carbon stocks and fluxes were evaluated, factoring out the individual contributions of atmospheric carbon dioxide ([CO2]), temperature, and precipitation. Impacts ranged from a strong increase to a severe loss of vegetation carbon (cv), depending on differences in climate projections, as well as the physiological response to rising [CO2]. The loss of cv simulated for an extremely dry projection was primarily driven by a reduction in gross primary productivity, and secondarily by enhanced emissions from fires and autotrophic respiration. In the wet forest, less precipitation and higher temperatures equally reduced cv, while in the dry forest, the impact of precipitation was dominating. The temperature-related reduction of cv was mainly due to a decrease in photosynthesis and only to lesser extent because of more autotrophic respiration and less stomatal conductance as a response to an increasing atmospheric evaporative demand. Under an extremely dry projection, tropical dry forests were simulated to virtually disappear, regardless of the potential fertilizing effect of rising [CO2]. This suggests a higher risk for forest loss along the drier southern fringe of the Amazon if annual precipitation will decrease substantially.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-413
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • global vegetation models
  • soil respiration
  • terrestrial biosphere
  • plant geography
  • carbon-dioxide
  • amazon dieback
  • rain-forest
  • dynamics
  • water
  • temperature


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  • ESS-CC

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