skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Stark, Scott C."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Predictions of the magnitude and timing of leaf phenology in Amazonian forests remain highly controversial. Here, we use terrestrial LiDAR surveys every two weeks spanning wet and dry seasons in Central Amazonia to show that plant phenology varies strongly across vertical strata in old-growth forests, but is sensitive to disturbances arising from forest fragmentation. In combination with continuous microclimate measurements, we find that when maximum daily temperatures reached 35 °C in the latter part of the dry season, the upper canopy of large trees in undisturbed forests lost plant material. In contrast, the understory greened up with increased light availability driven by the upper canopy loss, alongside increases in solar radiation, even during periods of drier soil and atmospheric conditions. However, persistently high temperatures in forest edges exacerbated the upper canopy losses of large trees throughout the dry season, whereas the understory in these light-rich environments was less dependent on the altered upper canopy structure. Our findings reveal a strong influence of edge effects on phenological controls in wet forests of Central Amazonia.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  4. With deforestation and associated fires ongoing at high rates, and amidst urgent need to preserve Amazonia, improving the understanding of biomass burning emissions drivers is essential. The use of orbital remote sensing data enables the estimate of both biomass burning emissions and deforestation. In this study, we have estimated emissions of particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) associated with biomass burning, a primary human health risk, using the Brazilian Biomass Burning emission model with Fire Radiative Power (3BEM_FRP), and estimated deforestation based on the MapBiomas dataset. Using these estimates, we have assessed for the first time how deforestation drove biomass burning emissions in Amazonia over the last two decades at three scales of analysis: Amazonia-wide, country/state and pixel. Amazonia accounted for 48% of PM2.5 emitted from biomass burning in South America and current deforestation rates have reached values on par with those of the early 21st Century. Emissions and deforestation were concentrated in the Eastern and Central-Southern portions of Amazonia. Amazonia-wide deforestation and emissions were linked through time (R = 0.65). Countries/states with the widest spread agriculture were less likely to be correlated at this scale, likely because of the importance of biomass burning in agricultural practices.more »Concentrated in regions of ongoing deforestation, in 18% of Amazonia grid cells PM2.5 emissions associated with biomass burning and deforestation were significantly positively correlated. Deforestation is an important driver of emissions in Amazonia but does not explain biomass burning alone. Therefore, future work must link climate and other non-deforestation drivers to completely understand biomass burning emissions in Amazonia. The advance of anthropogenic activities over forested areas, which ultimately leads to more fires and deforestation, is expected to continue, worsening a crisis of dangerous emissions.« less
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  6. While the climate and human-induced forest degradation is increasing in the Amazon, fire impacts on forest dynamics remain understudied in the wetter regions of the basin, which are susceptible to large wildfires only during extreme droughts. To address this gap, we installed burned and unburned plots immediately after a wildfire in the northern Purus-Madeira (Central Amazon) during the 2015 El-Niño. We measured all individuals with diameter of 10 cm or more at breast height and conducted recensuses to track the demographic drivers of biomass change over 3 years. We also assessed how stem-level growth and mortality were influenced by fire intensity (proxied by char height) and tree morphological traits (size and wood density). Overall, the burned forest lost 27.3% of stem density and 12.8% of biomass, concentrated in small and medium trees. Mortality drove these losses in the first 2 years and recruitment decreased in the third year. The fire increased growth in lower wood density and larger sized trees, while char height had transitory strong effects increasing tree mortality. Our findings suggest that fire impacts are weaker in the wetter Amazon. Here, trees of greater sizes and higher wood densities may confer a margin of fire resistance; however, thismore »may not extend to higher intensity fires arising from climate change.« less
  7. Summary

    Tropical forest function is of global significance to climate change responses, and critically determined by water availability patterns. Groundwater is tightly related to soil water through the water table depth (WT), but historically neglected in ecological studies. Shallow WT forests (WT < 5 m) are underrepresented in forest research networks and absent in eddy flux measurements, although they representc. 50% of the Amazon and are expected to respond differently to global‐change‐related droughts. We review WT patterns and consequences for plants, emerging results, and advance a conceptual model integrating environment and trait distributions to predict climate change effects. Shallow WT forests have a distinct species composition, with more resource‐acquisitive and hydrologically vulnerable trees, shorter canopies and lower biomass than deep WT forests. During ‘normal’ climatic years, shallow WT forests have higher mortality and lower productivity than deep WT forests, but during moderate droughts mortality is buffered and productivity increases. However, during severe drought, shallow WT forests may be more sensitive due to shallow roots and drought‐intolerant traits. Our evidence supports the hypothesis of neglected shallow WT forests being resilient to moderate drought, challenging the prevailing view of widespread negative effects of climate change on Amazonian forests that ignores WT gradients, but predicts theymore »could collapse under very strong droughts.

    « less