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  1. Abstract

    Understanding how evolutionary constraints shape the elevational distributions of tree lineages provides valuable insight into the future of tropical montane forests under global change. With narrow elevational ranges, high taxonomic turnover, frequent habitat specialization, and exceptional levels of endemism, tropical montane forests and trees are predicted to be highly sensitive to environmental change. Using plot census data from a gradient traversing > 3,000 m in elevation on the Amazonian flank of the Peruvian Andes, we employ phylogenetic approaches to assess the influence of evolutionary heritage on distribution trends of trees at the genus‐level. We find that closely related lineages tend to occur at similar mean elevations, with sister genera pairs occurring a mean 254 m in elevation closer to each other than the mean elevational difference between non‐sister genera pairs. We also demonstrate phylogenetic clustering both above and below 1,750 m a.s.l, corresponding roughly to the cloud‐base ecotone. Belying these general trends, some lineages occur across many different elevations. However, these highly plastic lineages are not phylogenetically clustered. Overall, our findings suggest that tropical montane forests are home to unique tree lineage diversity, constrained by their evolutionary heritage and vulnerable to substantial losses under environmental changes, such as rising temperatures or an upward shift of the cloud‐base.

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  2. Abstract

    Bamboos are a diverse and ecologically important group of plants that have the potential to modulate the structure, composition, and function of forests. With the aim of increasing the visibility and representation of bamboo in forest surveys, and to standardize techniques across ecosystems, we present a protocol for bamboo monitoring in permanent research plots. A bamboo protocol is necessary because measurements and sampling schemes that are well‐suited to trees are inadequate for monitoring most bamboo species and populations. Our protocol suggests counting all bamboo culms (stems) in the study plot and determining bamboo dimensions based on two different approaches: (a) measuring a random subset of 60 culms and calculating the average dimensions or (b) measuring all culms. With data from 1‐ha plots in the Peruvian Andes, we show that both approaches provide very similar estimates of bamboo basal area. We suggest including all mature culms rooted inside change the to each plot from all woody bamboo species with maximum diameters ≥1 cm. We also present recommendations on how to collect vouchers of bamboo species for identification. Data collected according to our proposed protocols will increase our understanding of regional and global patterns in bamboo diversity and the role of bamboo in forest dynamics.

    Abstract in Spanish is available with online material.

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  3. The eastern Andean treeline (EATL) is the world’s longest altitudinal ecotone and plays an important role in biodiversity conservation in the context of land use/cover and climate change. The purpose of this study was to assess to what extent the position of the tropical EATL (9°N–18°S) is in near-equilibrium with the climate, which determines its potential to adapt to climate change. On a continental scale, we have used land cover maps (MODIS MCD12) and elevation data (SRTM) to make the first-order assessment of the EATL position and continuity. For the assessment on a local scale and to address the three-dimensional nature of environmental change in mountainous environments, a novel method of automated delineation and assessment of altitudinal transects was devised and applied to Landsat-based forest maps (GLAD) and fine-resolution climatology (CHELSA). The emergence of a consistent longitudinal gradient of the treeline elevation over half of the EATL extent, which increases towards the equator by ~30 m and ~60 m per geographic degree from the south and north, respectively, serves as a first-order validation of the approach, while the local transects reveal a more nuanced aspect-dependent pattern. We conclude that the applied dual-scale approach with automated mass transect sampling allows for an improved understanding of treeline dynamics. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract It is largely unknown how South America’s Andean forests affect the global carbon cycle, and thus regulate climate change. Here, we measure aboveground carbon dynamics over the past two decades in 119 monitoring plots spanning a range of >3000 m elevation across the subtropical and tropical Andes. Our results show that Andean forests act as strong sinks for aboveground carbon (0.67 ± 0.08 Mg C ha −1 y −1 ) and have a high potential to serve as future carbon refuges. Aboveground carbon dynamics of Andean forests are driven by abiotic and biotic factors, such as climate and size-dependent mortality of trees. The increasing aboveground carbon stocks offset the estimated C emissions due to deforestation between 2003 and 2014, resulting in a net total uptake of 0.027 Pg C y −1 . Reducing deforestation will increase Andean aboveground carbon stocks, facilitate upward species migrations, and allow for recovery of biomass losses due to climate change. 
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  6. null (Ed.)