Many tropical regions are experiencing an intensification of drought, with increasing severity and frequency. The ecosystem response to these changes is still highly uncertain. On short time scales (from diurnal to seasonal), tropical forests respond to water stress by physiological controls, such as stomatal regulation and phenological adjustment, to cope with increasing atmospheric water demand and reduced water supply. However, the interactions among biological processes and co‐varying environmental factors that determine the ecosystem‐level fluxes are still unclear. Furthermore, climate variability at longer time scales, such as that generated by ENSO, produces less predictable effects because it depends on a highly stochastic combination of factors that might vary among forests and even between events in the same forest. This study will present some emerging patterns of response to water stress from 5 years of water, carbon, and energy fluxes observed on a seasonal tropical forest in central Panama, including an increase in productivity during the 2015 El Niño. These responses depend on the combination of environmental factors experienced by the forest throughout the seasonal cycle, in particular, increase in solar radiation, stimulating productivity, and increasing vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and decreasing soil moisture, limiting stomata opening. These results suggest a criticalmore »
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Scientific Reports
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Plant hydraulics, stomatal control, and the response of a tropical forest to water stress over multiple temporal scales
Vascular epiphytes show low physiological resistance and high recovery capacity to episodic, short‐term drought in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Tropical montane cloud forests support abundant epiphytic vascular plant communities that serve important ecosystem functions, but their reliance on atmospheric inputs of water may make them susceptible to the drying effects of rising cloud bases and more frequent droughts.
We conducted a common garden experiment to explore the combined effects of decreasing cloud influence—lower humidity, warmer temperature, brighter light—and meteorological drought (i.e. absence of rain) on the physiology and morphology of vascular epiphytes native to primary forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. The epiphytes, which exhibited C3photosynthesis, were sourced from a lower montane cloud forest (CF) or a rainforest (RF) below the current cloud base and transplanted into nearby shadehouses (CF or RF shadehouse respectively). Vapour pressure deficit (VPD) and light availability, measured as photosynthetically active radiation, were 2.5 and 3.1 times higher in the RF than the CF shadehouse. Half of the plants were subjected to a severe 4‐week drought followed by a recovery period, and the other half were watered controls.
Plants subjected to low VPD/light conditions of the CF shadehouse were physiologically and morphologically resistant to the drought treatment. However, compared to control plants, both sources of plants subjected to high VPD/light conditions of the RF shadehouse experienced declinesmore »
The divergent responses to drought in the CF versus RF shadehouses, combined with the recovery in the RF shadehouse, indicate that these epiphytes possess adaptive properties that confer low resistance, but high recovery capacity, to episodes of short‐term drought over a range of cloud influence. In addition, the reduction in
Amaxsuggests stomatal regulation that favours water conservation over carbon acquisition, a strategy that may inform epiphyte responses to rising clouds and increasing drought frequency expected in the long term.
Plain Language Summarycan be found within the Supporting Information of this article.
Climate change has affected the Arctic Ocean (AO) and its marginal seas significantly. The reduction of sea ice in the Arctic region has altered the magnitude of photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) entering the water column, impacting primary productivity. Increasing cloudiness in the atmosphere and rising turbidity in the coastal waters of the Arctic region are considered as the major factors that counteract the effect of reduced sea ice on underwater PAR. Additionally, extreme solar zenith angles and sea-ice cover in the AO increase the complexity of retrieving PAR. In this study, a PAR algorithm based on radiative transfer in the atmosphere and satellite observations is implemented to evaluate the effect of these factors on PAR in the coastal AO. To improve the performance of the algorithm, a flag is defined to identify pixels containing open-water, sea-ice or cloud. The use of flag enabled selective application of algorithms to compute the input parameters for the PAR algorithm. The PAR algorithm is validated using in situ measurements from various coastal sites in the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas. The algorithm estimated daily integrated PAR above the sea surface with an uncertainty of 19% in summer. The uncertainty increased to 24% when the algorithmmore »
Understanding plant phenological change is of great concern in the context of global climate change. Phenological models can aid in understanding and predicting growing season changes and can be parameterized with gross primary production (GPP) estimated using the eddy covariance (EC) technique. This study used nine years of EC-derived GPP data from three mature subtropical longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States with differing soil water holding capacity in combination with site-specific micrometeorological data to parameterize a photosynthesis-based phenological model. We evaluated how weather conditions and prescribed fire led to variation in the ecosystem phenological processes. The results suggest that soil water availability had an effect on phenology, and greater soil water availability was associated with a longer growing season (LOS). We also observed that prescribed fire, a common forest management activity in the region, had a limited impact on phenological processes. Dormant season fire had no significant effect on phenological processes by site, but we observed differences in the start of the growing season (SOS) between fire and non-fire years. Fire delayed SOS by 10 d ± 5 d (SE), and this effect was greater with higher soil water availability, extending SOS by 18 d on average. Firemore »
How Land Surface Characteristics Influence the Development of Flash Drought through the Drivers of Soil Moisture and Vapor Pressure Deficit
As global mean temperature rises, extreme drought events are expected to increasingly affect regions of the United States that are crucial for agriculture, forestry, and natural ecology. A pressing need is to understand and anticipate the conditions under which extreme drought causes catastrophic failure to vegetation in these areas. To better predict drought impacts on ecosystems, we first must understand how specific drivers, namely, atmospheric aridity and soil water stress, affect land surface processes during the evolution of flash drought events. In this study, we evaluated when vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and soil moisture thresholds corresponding to photosynthetic shutdown were crossed during flash drought events across different climate zones and land surface characteristics in the United States. First, the Dynamic Canopy Biophysical Properties (DCBP) model was used to estimate the thresholds that define reduced photosynthesis by assimilating vegetation phenology data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to a predictive phenology model. Next, we characterized and quantified flash drought onset, intensity, and duration using the standardized evaporative stress ratio (SESR) and NLDAS-2 reanalysis. Once periods of flash drought were identified, we investigated how VPD and soil moisture coevolved across regions and plant functional types. Results demonstrate that croplands andmore »