Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements

Marion Pfeifer, Alemu Gonsamo, William Woodgate, Luis Cayuela, Andrew R. Marshall, Alicia Ledo, Timothy C.E. Paine, Rob Marchant, Andrew Burt, Kim Calders, Colin Courtney-mustaphi, Aida Cuni-sanchez, Nicolas J. Deere, Dereje Denu, J. Gonzalez De Tanago Meñaca, Robin Hayward, A.I. Lau Sarmiento, Manuel J. Macía, Pieter I. Olivier, Petri Pellikka & 9 others Hamidu Seki, Deo Shirima, Rebecca Trevithick, Beatrice Wedeux, Charlotte Wheeler, Pantaleo K.T. Munishi, Thomas Martin, Abdul Mustari, Philip J. Platts

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Abstract

Background: Canopy structure, defined by leaf area index (LAI), fractional vegetation cover (FCover) and fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR), regulates a wide range of forest functions and ecosystem services. Spatially consistent field-measurements of canopy structure are however lacking, particularly for the tropics. Methods: Here, we introduce the Global LAI database: a global dataset of field-based canopy structure measurements spanning tropical forests in four continents (Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas). We use these measurements to test for climate dependencies within and across continents, and to test for the potential of anthropogenic disturbance and forest protection to modulate those dependences. Results: Using data collected from 887 tropical forest plots, we show that maximum water deficit, defined across the most arid months of the year, is an important predictor of canopy structure, with all three canopy attributes declining significantly with increasing water deficit. Canopy attributes also increase with minimum temperature, and with the protection of forests according to both active (within protected areas) and passive measures (through topography). Once protection and continent effects are accounted for, other anthropogenic measures (e.g. human population) do not improve the model. Conclusions: We conclude that canopy structure in the tropics is primarily a consequence of forest adaptation to the maximum water deficits historically experienced within a given region. Climate change, and in particular changes in drought regimes may thus affect forest structure and function, but forest protection may offer some resilience against this effect.
LanguageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages14
JournalForest Ecosystems
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2018

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forest canopy
tropical forests
tropical forest
canopy
climate
disturbance
leaf area index
tropics
water
photosynthetically active radiation
vegetation cover
human population
ecosystem services
anthropogenic activities
topography
ecosystem service
conservation areas
protected area
testing
drought

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Pfeifer, Marion ; Gonsamo, Alemu ; Woodgate, William ; Cayuela, Luis ; Marshall, Andrew R. ; Ledo, Alicia ; Paine, Timothy C.E. ; Marchant, Rob ; Burt, Andrew ; Calders, Kim ; Courtney-mustaphi, Colin ; Cuni-sanchez, Aida ; Deere, Nicolas J. ; Denu, Dereje ; Gonzalez De Tanago Meñaca, J. ; Hayward, Robin ; Lau Sarmiento, A.I. ; Macía, Manuel J. ; Olivier, Pieter I. ; Pellikka, Petri ; Seki, Hamidu ; Shirima, Deo ; Trevithick, Rebecca ; Wedeux, Beatrice ; Wheeler, Charlotte ; Munishi, Pantaleo K.T. ; Martin, Thomas ; Mustari, Abdul ; Platts, Philip J. / Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements. In: Forest Ecosystems. 2018 ; Vol. 5.
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title = "Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements",
abstract = "Background: Canopy structure, defined by leaf area index (LAI), fractional vegetation cover (FCover) and fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR), regulates a wide range of forest functions and ecosystem services. Spatially consistent field-measurements of canopy structure are however lacking, particularly for the tropics. Methods: Here, we introduce the Global LAI database: a global dataset of field-based canopy structure measurements spanning tropical forests in four continents (Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas). We use these measurements to test for climate dependencies within and across continents, and to test for the potential of anthropogenic disturbance and forest protection to modulate those dependences. Results: Using data collected from 887 tropical forest plots, we show that maximum water deficit, defined across the most arid months of the year, is an important predictor of canopy structure, with all three canopy attributes declining significantly with increasing water deficit. Canopy attributes also increase with minimum temperature, and with the protection of forests according to both active (within protected areas) and passive measures (through topography). Once protection and continent effects are accounted for, other anthropogenic measures (e.g. human population) do not improve the model. Conclusions: We conclude that canopy structure in the tropics is primarily a consequence of forest adaptation to the maximum water deficits historically experienced within a given region. Climate change, and in particular changes in drought regimes may thus affect forest structure and function, but forest protection may offer some resilience against this effect.",
author = "Marion Pfeifer and Alemu Gonsamo and William Woodgate and Luis Cayuela and Marshall, {Andrew R.} and Alicia Ledo and Paine, {Timothy C.E.} and Rob Marchant and Andrew Burt and Kim Calders and Colin Courtney-mustaphi and Aida Cuni-sanchez and Deere, {Nicolas J.} and Dereje Denu and {Gonzalez De Tanago Me{\~n}aca}, J. and Robin Hayward and {Lau Sarmiento}, A.I. and Mac{\'i}a, {Manuel J.} and Olivier, {Pieter I.} and Petri Pellikka and Hamidu Seki and Deo Shirima and Rebecca Trevithick and Beatrice Wedeux and Charlotte Wheeler and Munishi, {Pantaleo K.T.} and Thomas Martin and Abdul Mustari and Platts, {Philip J.}",
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month = "1",
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doi = "10.1186/s40663-017-0118-7",
language = "English",
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Pfeifer, M, Gonsamo, A, Woodgate, W, Cayuela, L, Marshall, AR, Ledo, A, Paine, TCE, Marchant, R, Burt, A, Calders, K, Courtney-mustaphi, C, Cuni-sanchez, A, Deere, NJ, Denu, D, Gonzalez De Tanago Meñaca, J, Hayward, R, Lau Sarmiento, AI, Macía, MJ, Olivier, PI, Pellikka, P, Seki, H, Shirima, D, Trevithick, R, Wedeux, B, Wheeler, C, Munishi, PKT, Martin, T, Mustari, A & Platts, PJ 2018, 'Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements', Forest Ecosystems, vol. 5, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40663-017-0118-7

Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements. / Pfeifer, Marion; Gonsamo, Alemu; Woodgate, William; Cayuela, Luis; Marshall, Andrew R.; Ledo, Alicia; Paine, Timothy C.E.; Marchant, Rob; Burt, Andrew; Calders, Kim; Courtney-mustaphi, Colin; Cuni-sanchez, Aida; Deere, Nicolas J.; Denu, Dereje; Gonzalez De Tanago Meñaca, J.; Hayward, Robin; Lau Sarmiento, A.I.; Macía, Manuel J.; Olivier, Pieter I.; Pellikka, Petri; Seki, Hamidu; Shirima, Deo; Trevithick, Rebecca; Wedeux, Beatrice; Wheeler, Charlotte; Munishi, Pantaleo K.T.; Martin, Thomas; Mustari, Abdul; Platts, Philip J.

In: Forest Ecosystems, Vol. 5, 7, 08.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements

AU - Pfeifer, Marion

AU - Gonsamo, Alemu

AU - Woodgate, William

AU - Cayuela, Luis

AU - Marshall, Andrew R.

AU - Ledo, Alicia

AU - Paine, Timothy C.E.

AU - Marchant, Rob

AU - Burt, Andrew

AU - Calders, Kim

AU - Courtney-mustaphi, Colin

AU - Cuni-sanchez, Aida

AU - Deere, Nicolas J.

AU - Denu, Dereje

AU - Gonzalez De Tanago Meñaca, J.

AU - Hayward, Robin

AU - Lau Sarmiento, A.I.

AU - Macía, Manuel J.

AU - Olivier, Pieter I.

AU - Pellikka, Petri

AU - Seki, Hamidu

AU - Shirima, Deo

AU - Trevithick, Rebecca

AU - Wedeux, Beatrice

AU - Wheeler, Charlotte

AU - Munishi, Pantaleo K.T.

AU - Martin, Thomas

AU - Mustari, Abdul

AU - Platts, Philip J.

PY - 2018/1/8

Y1 - 2018/1/8

N2 - Background: Canopy structure, defined by leaf area index (LAI), fractional vegetation cover (FCover) and fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR), regulates a wide range of forest functions and ecosystem services. Spatially consistent field-measurements of canopy structure are however lacking, particularly for the tropics. Methods: Here, we introduce the Global LAI database: a global dataset of field-based canopy structure measurements spanning tropical forests in four continents (Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas). We use these measurements to test for climate dependencies within and across continents, and to test for the potential of anthropogenic disturbance and forest protection to modulate those dependences. Results: Using data collected from 887 tropical forest plots, we show that maximum water deficit, defined across the most arid months of the year, is an important predictor of canopy structure, with all three canopy attributes declining significantly with increasing water deficit. Canopy attributes also increase with minimum temperature, and with the protection of forests according to both active (within protected areas) and passive measures (through topography). Once protection and continent effects are accounted for, other anthropogenic measures (e.g. human population) do not improve the model. Conclusions: We conclude that canopy structure in the tropics is primarily a consequence of forest adaptation to the maximum water deficits historically experienced within a given region. Climate change, and in particular changes in drought regimes may thus affect forest structure and function, but forest protection may offer some resilience against this effect.

AB - Background: Canopy structure, defined by leaf area index (LAI), fractional vegetation cover (FCover) and fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR), regulates a wide range of forest functions and ecosystem services. Spatially consistent field-measurements of canopy structure are however lacking, particularly for the tropics. Methods: Here, we introduce the Global LAI database: a global dataset of field-based canopy structure measurements spanning tropical forests in four continents (Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas). We use these measurements to test for climate dependencies within and across continents, and to test for the potential of anthropogenic disturbance and forest protection to modulate those dependences. Results: Using data collected from 887 tropical forest plots, we show that maximum water deficit, defined across the most arid months of the year, is an important predictor of canopy structure, with all three canopy attributes declining significantly with increasing water deficit. Canopy attributes also increase with minimum temperature, and with the protection of forests according to both active (within protected areas) and passive measures (through topography). Once protection and continent effects are accounted for, other anthropogenic measures (e.g. human population) do not improve the model. Conclusions: We conclude that canopy structure in the tropics is primarily a consequence of forest adaptation to the maximum water deficits historically experienced within a given region. Climate change, and in particular changes in drought regimes may thus affect forest structure and function, but forest protection may offer some resilience against this effect.

UR - https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3976518

U2 - 10.1186/s40663-017-0118-7

DO - 10.1186/s40663-017-0118-7

M3 - Article

VL - 5

JO - Forest Ecosystems

T2 - Forest Ecosystems

JF - Forest Ecosystems

SN - 2095-6355

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ER -