Drought cuts back regeneration in logged tropical forests

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Title: Drought cuts back regeneration in logged tropical forests
Authors: Qie, L
Telford, E
Massam, MR
Tangki, H
Nilus, R
Hector, A
Ewers, R
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Logged tropical forests represent a major opportunity for preserving biodiversity and sequestering carbon, playing a large role in meeting global forest restoration targets. Left alone, these ecosystems have been expected to undergo natural regeneration and succession towards old growth forests, but extreme drought events may challenge this process. While old growth forests possess a certain level of resilience, we lack understanding as to how logging may affect forest responses to drought. This study examines the drought–logging interaction in seedling dynamics within a landscape of logged and unlogged forests in Sabah Malaysia, based on 73 plots monitored before and after the 2015-16 El Niño drought. Drought increased seedling mortality in all forests, but the magnitude of this impact was modulated by logging intensity, with forests with lower canopy leaf area index (LAI) and above ground biomass (AGB) experiencing greater drought induced mortality. Moreover, community traits in more heavily logged forests shifted towards being more ruderal after drought, suggesting that the trajectory of forest succession had been reversed. These results indicate that with reoccurring strong droughts under a changing climate, logged forests that have had over half of their biomass removed may suffer permanently arrested succession. Targeted management interventions may therefore be necessary to lift the vulnerable forests above the biomass threshold.
Issue Date: 9-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance: 15-Feb-2019
ISSN: 1748-9326
Publisher: IOP Publishing
Journal / Book Title: Environmental Research Letters
Volume: 14
Issue: 4
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
The British Council
Funder's Grant Number: NE/P00363X/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Physical Sciences
Environmental Sciences
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
forest disturbance
forest recovery
community assembly
leaf trait
plant strategy
plant functional types
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2019-02-15
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences

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