Tropical forests and global change: filling knowledge gaps

P.A. Zuidema, P.J. Baker, P. Groenendijk, P. Schippers, J.P. van der Sleen, M. Vlam, F.J. Sterck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


Tropical forests will experience major changes in environmental conditions this century. Understanding their responses to such changes is crucial to predicting global carbon cycling. Important knowledge gaps exist: the causes of recent changes in tropical forest dynamics remain unclear and the responses of entire tropical trees to environmental changes are poorly understood. In this Opinion article, we argue that filling these knowledge gaps requires a new research strategy, one that focuses on trees instead of leaves or communities, on long-term instead of short-term changes, and on understanding mechanisms instead of documenting changes. We propose the use of tree-ring analyses, stable-isotope analyses, manipulative field experiments, and well-validated simulation models to improve predictions of forest responses to global change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-419
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • water-use efficiency
  • climate-change
  • rain-forest
  • tree-rings
  • elevated co2
  • pervasive alteration
  • western thailand
  • traits determine
  • growth-patterns
  • atmospheric co2


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