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Intraspecific trait variability facilitates tree species persistence along riparian forest edges in Southern AmazoniaAbstract Tropical forest fragmentation from agricultural expansion alters the microclimatic conditions of the remaining forests, with effects on vegetation structure and function. However, little is known about how the functional trait variability within and among tree species in fragmented landscapes influence and facilitate species’ persistence in these new environmental conditions. Here, we assessed potential changes in tree species’ functional traits in riparian forests within six riparian forests in cropland catchments (Cropland) and four riparian forests in forested catchments (Forest) in southern Amazonia. We sampled 12 common functional traits of 123 species across all sites: 64 common to both croplands and forests, 33 restricted to croplands, and 26 restricted to forests. We found that forest-restricted species had leaves that were thinner, larger, and with higher phosphorus (P) content, compared to cropland-restricted ones. Tree species common to both environments showed higher intraspecific variability in functional traits, with leaf thickness and leaf P concentration varying the most. Species turnover contributed more to differences between forest and cropland environments only for the stem-specific density trait. We conclude that the intraspecific variability of functional traits (leaf thickness, leaf P, and specific leaf area) facilitates species persistence in riparian forests occurring within catchments cleared for agriculturalmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
Intensive agriculture alters headwater streams, but our understanding of its effects is limited in tropical regions where rates of agricultural expansion and intensification are currently greatest. Riparian forest protections are an important conservation tool, but whether they provide adequate protection of stream function in these areas of rapid tropical agricultural development has not been well studied. To address these gaps, we conducted a study in the lowland Brazilian Amazon, an area undergoing rapid cropland expansion, to assess the effects of land use change on organic matter dynamics (OM), ecosystem metabolism, and nutrient concentrations and uptake (nitrate and phosphate) in 11 first order streams draining forested (n = 4) or cropland (n = 7) watersheds with intact riparian forests. We found that streams had similar terrestrial litter inputs, but OM biomass was lower in cropland streams. Gross primary productivity was low and not different between land uses, but ecosystem respiration and net ecosystem production showed greater seasonality in cropland streams. Although we found no difference in stream concentrations of dissolved nutrients, phosphate uptake exceeded nitrate uptake in all streams and was higher in cropland than forested streams. This indicates that streams will be more retentive of phosphorus than nitrogen and thatmore »
Prolonged tropical forest degradation due to compounding disturbances: Implications for CO 2 and H 2 O fluxes
Drought, fire, and windstorms can interact to degrade tropical forests and the ecosystem services they provide, but how these forests recover after catastrophic disturbance events remains relatively unknown. Here, we analyze multi‐year measurements of vegetation dynamics and function (fluxes of CO2and H2O) in forests recovering from 7 years of controlled burns, followed by wind disturbance. Located in southeast Amazonia, the experimental forest consists of three 50‐ha plots burned annually, triennially, or not at all from 2004 to 2010. During the subsequent 6‐year recovery period, postfire tree survivorship and biomass sharply declined, with aboveground C stocks decreasing by 70%–94% along forest edges (0–200 m into the forest) and 36%–40% in the forest interior. Vegetation regrowth in the forest understory triggered partial canopy closure (70%–80%) from 2010 to 2015. The composition and spatial distribution of grasses invading degraded forest evolved rapidly, likely because of the delayed mortality. Four years after the experimental fires ended (2014), the burned plots assimilated 36% less carbon than the Control, but net CO2exchange and evapotranspiration (ET) had fully recovered 7 years after the experimental fires ended (2017). Carbon uptake recovery occurred largely in response to increased light‐use efficiency and reduced postfire respiration, whereas increased water use associated with postfiremore »