Browsing by Subject "DROUGHT"

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  • Mencuccini, Maurizio; Salmon, Yann; Mitchell, Patrick; Hölttä, Teemu; Choat, Brendan; Meir, Patrick; O'Grady, Anthony; Tissue, David; Zweifel, Roman; Sevanto, Sanna; Pfautsch, Sebastian (2017)
    Substantial uncertainty surrounds our knowledge of tree stem growth, with some of the most basic questions, such as when stem radial growth occurs through the daily cycle, still unanswered. We employed high-resolution point dendrometers, sap flow sensors, and developed theory and statistical approaches, to devise a novel method separating irreversible radial growth from elastic tension-driven and elastic osmotically driven changes in bark water content. We tested this method using data from five case study species. Experimental manipulations, namely a field irrigation experiment on Scots pine and a stem girdling experiment on red forest gum trees, were used to validate the theory. Time courses of stem radial growth following irrigation and stem girdling were consistent with a-priori predictions. Patterns of stem radial growth varied across case studies, with growth occurring during the day and/or night, consistent with the available literature. Importantly, our approach provides a valuable alternative to existing methods, as it can be approximated by a simple empirical interpolation routine that derives irreversible radial growth using standard regression techniques. Our novel method provides an improved understanding of the relative source-sink carbon dynamics of tree stems at a sub-daily time scale.
  • Fang, Keyan; Makkonen, Risto; Guo, Zhengtang; Zhao, Yan; Seppä, Heikki (2015)
    A significant wetting trend since the early 1980s in Tibetan Plateau (TP) is most conspicuous in central and eastern Asia as shown in the instrumental data and the long-term moisture sensitive tree rings. We found that anomalies in the large-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulations do not play a significant role on the wetting trend in TP. Meanwhile, the weak correlation between local temperature and precipitation suggests that the temperature-induced enhancement of the local water cycle cannot fully explain the wetting trend either. This may indicate the presence of nonlinear processes between local temperature and precipitation. We hypothesize that the current warming may enhance the emissions of the biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) that can increase the secondary organic aerosols (SOA), contributing to the precipitation increase. The wetting trend can increase the vegetation cover and cause a positive feedback on the BVOC emissions. Our simulations indicate a significant contribution of increased BVOC emissions to the regional organic aerosol mass and the simulated increase in BVOC emissions is significantly correlated with the wetting trend in TP.
  • Tienaho, Jenni; Karonen, Maarit; Muilu-Mäkelä, Riina; Kaseva, Janne; de Pedro, Nuria; Vicente, Francisca; Genilloud, Olga; Aapola, Ulla; Uusitalo, Hannu; Vuolteenaho, Katriina; Franzen, Robert; Wähälä, Kristiina; Karp, Matti; Santala, Ville; Sarjala, Tytti (2020)
    Despite the continuing interest in various plant and natural products, only a small portion of the biologically active compounds from nature has been discovered and exploited. In this study, antioxidant and antibacterial properties of aqueous fractions of three endophytic fungi isolated from the roots of 8-year-old Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) growing on a drained peatland were investigated. The endophytic fungi species were Acephala applanata, Phialocephala fortinii, and Humicolopsis cephalosporioides/Coniochaeta mutabilis. The bioactivities were examined using hydrogen peroxide scavenging and oxygen radical absorbance capacity tests as well as sensitive Escherichia coli-based biosensors, which produce a luminescent signal in the presence of substances with oxidative or genotoxic properties. In addition, cell models for Parkinson's disease, age-related macular degeneration, and osteoarthritis were used to evaluate the potential for pharmaceutical applications. The aqueous extracts of fungi and 19 out of 42 fractions were found to be active in one or more of the tests used. However, no activity was found in the age-related macular degeneration and osteoarthritis cell model tests. Additionally, bioactivity data was connected with metabolites putatively annotated, and out of 330 metabolites, 177 were interesting in view of the bioactivities investigated. A majority of these were peptides and all three fungal species shared a highly similar metabolome. We propose that Scots pine endophytic fungi are a rich source of interesting metabolites, and synergistic effects may cause the bioactivities, as they were found to vary after the fractionation process.
  • de Moura, Yhasmin Mendes; Balzter, Heiko; Galvão, Lênio S.; Dalagnol, Ricardo; Espírito-Santo, Fernando; Santos, Erone G.; Garcia, Mariano; Bispo, Polyanna Da Conceição; Oliveira, Raimundo C.; Shimabukuro, Yosio E. (2020)
    Tropical forests hold significant amounts of carbon and play a critical role on Earth ' s climate system. To date, carbon dynamics over tropical forests have been poorly assessed, especially over vast areas of the tropics that have been affected by some type of disturbance (e.g., selective logging, understory fires, and fragmentation). Understanding the multi-temporal dynamics of carbon stocks over human-modified tropical forests (HMTF) is crucial to close the carbon cycle balance in the tropics. Here, we used multi-temporal and high-spatial resolution airborne LiDAR data to quantify rates of carbon dynamics over a large patch of HMTF in eastern Amazon, Brazil. We described a robust approach to monitor changes in aboveground forest carbon stocks between 2012 and 2018. Our results showed that this particular HMTF lost 0.57 myr(-1) in mean forest canopy height and 1.38 MgCha(-1)yr(-1) of forest carbon between 2012 and 2018. LiDAR-based estimates of Aboveground Carbon Density (ACD) showed progressive loss through the years, from 77.9 MgCha(-1) in 2012 to 53.1 MgCha(-1) in 2018, thus a decrease of 31.8%. Rates of carbon stock changes were negative for all time intervals analyzed, yielding average annual carbon loss rates of -1.34 MgCha(-1)yr(-1). This suggests that this HMTF is acting more as a source of carbon than a sink, having great negative implications for carbon emission scenarios in tropical forests. Although more studies of forest dynamics in HMTFs are necessary to reduce the current remaining uncertainties in the carbon cycle, our results highlight the persistent effects of carbon losses for the study area. HMTFs are likely to expand across the Amazon in the near future. The resultant carbon source conditions, directly associated with disturbances, may be essential when considering climate projections and carbon accounting methods.
  • Zweifel, Roman; Etzold, Sophia; Sterck, Frank; Gessler, Arthur; Anfodillo, Tommaso; Mencuccini, Maurizio; von Arx, Georg; Lazzarin, Martina; Haeni, Matthias; Feichtinger, Linda; Meusburger, Katrin; Knuesel, Simon; Walthert, Lorenz; Salmon, Yann; Bose, Arun K.; Schoenbeck, Leonie; Hug, Christian; De Girardi, Nicolas; Giuggiola, Arnaud; Schaub, Marcus; Rigling, Andreas (2020)
    Tree responses to altered water availability range from immediate (e.g. stomatal regulation) to delayed (e.g. crown size adjustment). The interplay of the different response times and processes, and their effects on long-term whole-tree performance, however, is hardly understood. Here we investigated legacy effects on structures and functions of mature Scots pine in a dry inner-Alpine Swiss valley after stopping an 11-yr lasting irrigation treatment. Measured ecophysiological time series were analysed and interpreted with a system-analytic tree model. We found that the irrigation stop led to a cascade of downregulations of physiological and morphological processes with different response times. Biophysical processes responded within days, whereas needle and shoot lengths, crown transparency, and radial stem growth reached control levels after up to 4 yr only. Modelling suggested that organ and carbon reserve turnover rates play a key role for a tree's responsiveness to environmental changes. Needle turnover rate was found to be most important to accurately model stem growth dynamics. We conclude that leaf area and its adjustment time to new conditions is the main determinant for radial stem growth of pine trees as the transpiring area needs to be supported by a proportional amount of sapwood, despite the growth-inhibiting environmental conditions.
  • Vesala, Timo; Sevanto, Sanna; Grönholm, Tiia; Salmon, Yann; Nikinmaa, Eero; Hari, Pertti; Hölttä, Teemu (2017)
    The pull of water from the soil to the leaves causes water in the transpiration stream to be under negative pressure decreasing the water potential below zero. The osmotic concentration also contributes to the decrease in leaf water potential but withmuch lesser extent. Thus, the surface tension force is approximately balanced by a force induced by negative water potential resulting in concavely curved water-air interfaces in leaves. The lowered water potential causes a reduction in the equilibrium water vapor pressure in internal (sub-stomatal/ intercellular) cavities in relation to that over water with the potential of zero, i.e., over the flat surface. The curved surface causes a reduction also in the equilibrium vapor pressure of dissolved CO2, thus enhancing its physical solubility to water. Although the water vapor reduction is acknowledged by plant physiologists its consequences for water vapor exchange at low water potential values have received very little attention. Consequences of the enhanced CO2 solubility to a leaf water-carbon budget have not been considered at all before this study. We use theoretical calculations and modeling to show how the reduction in the vapor pressures affects transpiration and carbon assimilation rates. Our results indicate that the reduction in vapor pressures of water and CO2 could enhance plant water use efficiency up to about 10% at a leaf water potential of -2 MPa, and much more when water potential decreases further. The low water potential allows for a direct stomatal water vapor uptake from the ambient air even at sub-100% relative humidity values. This alone could explain the observed rates of foliar water uptake by e.g., the coastal redwood in the fog belt region of coastal California provided the stomata are sufficiently open. The omission of the reduction in the water vapor pressure causes a bias in the estimates of the stomatal conductance and leaf internal CO2 concentration based on leaf gas exchange measurements. Manufactures of leaf gas exchange measurement systems should incorporate leaf water potentials in measurement set-ups.
  • Linnakoski, Riikka; Sugano, Junko; Junttila, Samuli; Pulkkinen, Pertti; Asiegbu, Fred O.; Forbes, Kristian M. (2017)
    Norway spruce is one of the most important commercial forestry species in Europe, and is commonly infected by the bark beetle-vectored necrotrophic fungus, Endoconidiophora polonica. Spruce trees display a restricted capacity to respond to environmental perturbations, and we hypothesized that water limitation will increase disease severity in this pathosystem. To test this prediction, 737 seedlings were randomized to high (W+) or low (W-) water availability treatment groups, and experimentally inoculated with one of three E. polonica strains or mock-inoculated. Seedling mortality was monitored throughout an annual growing season, and total seedling growth and lesion length indices were measured at the experiment conclusion. Seedling growth was greater in the W+ than W- treatment group, demonstrating limitation due to water availability. For seedlings infected with two of the fungal strains, no differences in disease severity occurred in response to water availability. For the third fungal strain, however, greater disease severity (mortality and lesion lengths) occurred in W- than W+ seedlings. While the co-circulation in nature of multiple E. polonica strains of varying virulence is known, this is the first experimental evidence that water availability can alter strain-specific disease severity.
  • Huang, Bin; Huang, Zhinuo; Ma, Ruifang; Chen, Jialu; Zhang, Zhijun; Yrjälä, Kim (2021)
    Heat shock transcription factors (HSFs) are central elements in the regulatory network that controls plant heat stress response. They are involved in multiple transcriptional regulatory pathways and play important roles in heat stress signaling and responses to a variety of other stresses. We identified 41 members of the HSF gene family in moso bamboo, which were distributed non-uniformly across its 19 chromosomes. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the moso bamboo HSF genes could be divided into three major subfamilies; HSFs from the same subfamily shared relatively conserved gene structures and sequences and encoded similar amino acids. All HSF genes contained HSF signature domains. Subcellular localization prediction indicated that about 80% of the HSF proteins were located in the nucleus, consistent with the results of GO enrichment analysis. A large number of stress response-associated cis-regulatory elements were identified in the HSF upstream promoter sequences. Synteny analysis indicated that the HSFs in the moso bamboo genome had greater collinearity with those of rice and maize than with those of Arabidopsis and pepper. Numerous segmental duplicates were found in the moso bamboo HSF gene family. Transcriptome data indicated that the expression of a number of PeHsfs differed in response to exogenous gibberellin (GA) and naphthalene acetic acid (NAA). A number of HSF genes were highly expressed in the panicles and in young shoots, suggesting that they may have functions in reproductive growth and the early development of rapidly-growing shoots. This study provides fundamental information on members of the bamboo HSF gene family and lays a foundation for further study of their biological functions in the regulation of plant responses to adversity.
  • Kulmala, Liisa; Read, Jesse; Nöjd, Pekka; Rathgeber, Cyrille B.K.; Cuny, Henri E.; Hollmén, Jaakko; Mäkinen, Harri (2017)
    Even though studies monitoring the phenology and seasonal dynamics of the wood formation have accumulated for several conifer species across the Northern Hemisphere, the environmental control of tracheid production and differentiation is still fragmentary. With microcore and environmental data from six stands in Finland and France, we built auto-calibrated data-driven black box models for analyzing the most important factors controlling the tracheid production and maturation in Scots pine stem. In the best models, estimation was accurate to within a fraction of a tracheid per week. We compared the relative results of models built using different predictors, and found that the rate of tracheid production was partly regular but current and previous air temperature had influence on the sites in the middle of the temperature range and photosynthetic production in the coldest ones. The rate of mature cell production was more difficult to relate to the predictors but recent photosynthetic production was included in all successful models.
  • Abera, Temesgen; Heiskanen, Janne; Pellikka, Petri; Maeda, Eduardo (2020)
    Precipitation extremes have a strong influence on the exchange of energy and water between the land surface and the atmosphere. Although the Horn of Africa has faced recurrent drought and flood events in recent decades, it is still unclear how these events impact energy exchange and surface temperature across different ecosystems. Here, we analyzed the impact of precipitation extremes on spectral albedo (total shortwave, visible, and near-infrared (NIR) broadband albedos), energy balance, and surface temperature in four natural vegetation types: forest, savanna, grassland, and shrubland. We used remotely sensed observations of surface biophysical properties and climate from 2001 to 2016. Our results showed that, in forests and savannas, precipitation extremes led to divergent spectral changes in visible and NIR albedos, which cancelled each other limiting shortwave albedo changes. An exception to this pattern was observed in shrublands and grasslands, where both visible and NIR albedo increased during drought events. Given that shrublands and grasslands occupy a large fraction of the Horn of Africa (52%), our results unveil the importance of these ecosystems in driving the magnitude of shortwave radiative forcing in the region. The average regional shortwave radiative forcing during drought events (-0.64 W m(-2), SD 0.11) was around twice that of the extreme wet events (0.33 W m(-2), SD 0.09). Such shortwave forcing, however, was too small to influence the surface-atmosphere coupling. In contrast, the surface feedback through turbulent flux changes was strong across vegetation types and had a significant (P <0.05) impact on the surface temperature and net radiation anomalies, except in forests. The strongest energy exchange and surface temperature anomalies were observed over grassland and the smallest over forest, which was shown to be resilient to precipitation extremes. These results suggest that land management activities that support forest preservation, afforestation, and reforestation can help to mitigate the impact of drought through their role in modulating energy fluxes and surface temperature anomalies in the region.
  • Rosa, Elena; Minard, Guillaume; Lindholm, Johanna; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2019)
    While host plant drought is generally viewed as a negative phenomenon, its impact on insect herbivores can vary largely depending on the species involved and on the intensity of the drought. Extreme drought killing host plants can clearly reduce herbivore fitness, but the impact of moderate host plant water stress on insect herbivores can vary, and may even be beneficial. The populations of the Finnish Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) have faced reduced precipitation in recent years, with impacts even on population dynamics. Whether the negative effects of low precipitation are solely due to extreme desiccation killing the host plant or whether moderate drought reduces plant quality for the larvae remains unknown. We assessed the performance of larvae fed on moderately water-stressed Plantago lanceolata in terms of growth, survival, and immune response, and additionally were interested to assess whether the gut microbial composition of the larvae changed due to modification of the host plant. We found that larvae fed on water-stressed plants had increased growth, with no impact on survival, up-regulated the expression of one candidate immune gene (pelle), and had a more heterogeneous bacterial community and a shifted fungal community in the gut. Most of the measured traits showed considerable variation due to family structure. Our data suggest that in temperate regions moderate host plant water stress can positively shape resource acquisition of this specialized insect herbivore, potentially by increasing nutrient accessibility or concentration. Potentially, the better larval performance may be mediated by a shift of the microbiota on water-stressed plants, calling for further research especially on the understudied gut fungal community.
  • Wasonga, Daniel O.; Kleemola, Jouko; Alakukku, Laura; Mäkelä, Pirjo S. A. (2020)
    Water deficit limits cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) productivity in drought-prone areas and alters the nutritive quality of the crop. Potassium (K) may mitigate the effects of water deficit and improve the nutritional content of cassava, which would alleviate malnutrition among the human population in the tropics who depend on cassava as a staple food. Pot experiments were conducted under controlled glasshouse conditions to investigate the influence of deficit irrigation and K fertigation on the nutritive and anti-nutritive quality of biofortified cassava during the early growth phase. Treatments initiated at 30 days after planting were three irrigation doses (30, 60, 100% pot capacity) that were split to five K (0.01, 1, 4, 16, and 32 mM) concentrations. Plants were harvested at 90 days after planting, and the starch, energy, carotenoid, crude protein, fiber, minerals, and cyanide concentration of the leaves and roots were determined. Irrigation and K treatments showed significant (P <0.05) interactions for starch, carotenoid, energy, and cyanide concentration. An irrigation dose of 30% together with 0.01 mM K resulted in the lowest starch, carotenoid, energy, and fiber content, but highest cyanide concentration, relative to full-irrigated (100%) plants together with 16 mM K. When the K application rate was 16 mM the best nutritional quality was obtained, with the lowest cyanide concentration, regardless of irrigation dose. Moreover, nutritional traits showed strong positive associations, whereas cyanide concentration correlated negatively with all the nutritional traits. Notably, an irrigation dose of 60% together with 16 mM K reduced the nutritional content the least and showed minimal increase in cyanide concentration. The results indicate that K fertigation with adjusted irrigation may improve the dietary quality of young cassava and reduce antinutrients, which could enhance the nutrient bioavailability of cassava grown in drought-prone areas.
  • Aalto, Tuula; Peltoniemi, Mikko; Aurela, Mika; Böttcher, Kristin; Gao, Yao; Härkönen, Sanna; Härmä, Pekka; Kilkki, Juho; Kolari, Pasi; Laurila, Tuomas; Lehtonen, Aleksi; Manninen, Terhikki; Markkanen, Tiina; Mattila, Olli-Pekka; Metsamaki, Sari; Muukkonen, Petteri; Mäkelä, Annikki; Pulliainen, Jouni; Susiluoto, Jouni; Takala, Matias; Thum, Tea; Tupek, Boris; Törmä, Markus; Arslan, Ali Nadir (2015)
  • Abera, Temesgen Alemayehu; Heiskanen, Janne Hermanni; Pellikka, Petri Kauko Emil; Maeda, Eduardo Eiji (2018)
    Climate–vegetation interaction can be perturbed by human activities through deforestation and natural extreme climatic events. These perturbations can affect the energy and water balance, exacerbating heat stress associated with droughts. Such phenomena are particularly relevant in the Horn of Africa, given its economic and social vulnerability to environmental changes. In this paper, we used 16-year time series (2001–2016) of remotely sensed environmental data with the objective of 1) clarifying how rainfall–vegetation interaction affects land surface temperature (LST) seasonality across the Horn of Africa, and 2) evaluating how this interaction affects LST anomalies during forest loss and drought events. Our results showed that vegetation seasonality follows rainfall modality patterns in 81% of the region. On the other hand, seasonality of daytime LST was negatively related to vegetation greenness patterns across ecoregions, and rainfall modality. LST varied more strongly in grasslands and shrublands than over other vegetation classes. Comparison of LST before and after forest loss in three selected areas (two in Ethiopia and one in Kenya) revealed an annual average increase in LST of 0.7 °C, 1.8 °C, and 0.2 °C after climate variability correction, respectively. The average increase in LST was relatively high and consistent during dry months (1.5 °C, 3 °C, and 0.6 °C). As expected, the rainfall anomalies during droughts (2010/2011, 2015, and 2016) were positively correlated with vegetation greenness anomalies. Nonetheless, the degree with which vegetation cover is affected by extreme rainfall events has a strong influence in regulating the impact of droughts on temperature anomalies. This highlights the importance of vegetation resilience and land cover management in regulating the impact of extreme events.
  • Chen, Juan; Han, Qingquan; Duan, Baoli; Korpelainen, Helena; Li, Chunyang (2017)
    Lead (Pb) contamination seriously threatens agroforestry production and safety. We aim to determine the interactive influence of Pb and sexual competition on the growth performance, photosynthetic and biochemical traits, ultrastructure and phytoremediation-related parameters of males and females. In the present study, eco-physiological responses and phytoremediation traits of Populus cathayana females and males were evaluated under interactive treatments of Pb and competition. There were significant sex-specific competition effects on biomass partition, photosynthetic activities, carbohydrate contents, nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiencies, ultrastructure and phytoremediation under Pb stress. When competition within the same sex was compared, females were more sensitive to Pb stress, while males possessed greater Pb contents, and a higher bioconcentration factor and tolerance index. Under inter-sexual competition, males alleviated competition effects through greater Pb absorption, and lower photosynthetic rates, nutrient use efficiencies and biomass accumulation. Moreover, Pb stress altered competition intensities of both sexes. Sex-specific competition and neighbor effects may regulate responses and phytoremediation under heavy metal stress in dioecious plants. In the future, more attention should be paid on the effects of inter- and intra-sexual competition on dioecious species in the process of forestation and restoration of contaminated soil.
  • Hou, Meiting; Venalainen, Ari K.; Wang, Linping; Pirinen, Pentti; Gao, Yao; Jin, Shaofei; Zhu, Yuxiang; Qin, Fuying; Hu, Yonghong (2020)
    Spring greening in boreal forest ecosystems has been widely linked to increasing temperature, but few studies have attempted to unravel the relative effects of climate variables such as maximum temperature (TMX), minimum temperature (TMN), mean temperature (TMP), precipitation (PRE) and radiation (RAD) on vegetation growth at different stages of growing season. However, clarifying these effects is fundamental to better understand the relationship between vegetation and climate change. This study investigated spatio-temporal divergence in the responses of Finland's boreal forests to climate variables using the plant phenology index (PPI) calculated based on the latest Collection V006 MODIS BRDF-corrected surface reflectance products (MCD43C4) from 2002 to 2018, and identified the dominant climate variables controlling vegetation change during the growing season (May-September) on a monthly basis. Partial least squares (PLS) regression was used to quantify the response of PPI to climate variables and distinguish the separate impacts of different variables. The study results show the dominant effects of temperature on the PPI in May and June, with TMX, TMN and TMP being the most important explanatory variables for the variation of PPI depending on the location, respectively. Meanwhile, drought had an unexpectedly positive impact on vegetation in few areas. More than 50 % of the variation of PPI could be explained by climate variables for 68.5 % of the entire forest area in May and 87.7 % in June, respectively. During July to September, the PPI variance explained by climate and corresponding spatial extent rapidly decreased. Nevertheless, the RAD was found be the most important explanatory variable to July PPI in some areas. In contrast, the PPI in August and September was insensitive to climate in almost all of the regions studied. Our study gives useful insights on quantifying and identifying the relative importance of climate variables to boreal forest, which can be used to predict the possible response of forest under future warming.
  • Terhonen, Eeva; Babalola, Jumoke; Kasanen, Risto; Jalkanen, Risto; Blumenstein, Kathrin (2021)
    The aim of this study was to determine if the ascomycete fungus Sphaeropsis sapinea (Fr.) Dyko & B. Sutton (syn. Diplodia sapinea (Fr.) Fuckel) could be cultured from surface sterilized Scots pine twigs presenting the endophytic stage of this fungus. This fungus causes the disease called Diplodia tip blight in conifers. Symptoms become visible when trees have been weakened by abiotic stressors related to temperature, drought and hailstorms. The disease is rapidly increasing and is observed regularly in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests in Europe. Changes in climatic conditions will gradually increase the damage of this pathogen, because it is favored by elevated temperatures and additionally the host trees will be more susceptible due to related environmental stress. Diplodia tip blight is emerging towards Northern latitudes, thus, actions to monitor the spread of S. sapinea in pine-dominated forests should be undertaken in Finland. Our aim was to search for S. sapinea in Scots pine along a transect in Finland. Branch samples were collected from healthy Scots pine, fungal endophytes were isolated and morphologically identified. Sixteen S. sapinea strains were found from four Scots pine trees from two locations. This finding confirms that S. sapinea is found as an endophyte in healthy Scots pine in Finland.
  • 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; de Tanago, Jose Gonzalez; Hayward, Robin; Lau, Alvaro; Macia, 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. (2018)
    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.