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  1. Abstract Lianas, or woody vines, and trees dominate the canopy of tropical forests and comprise the majority of tropical aboveground carbon storage. These growth forms respond differently to contemporary variation in climate and resource availability, but their responses to future climate change are poorly understood because there are very few predictive ecosystem models representing lianas. We compile a database of liana functional traits (846 species) and use it to parameterize a mechanistic model of liana-tree competition. The substantial difference between liana and tree hydraulic conductivity represents a critical source of inter-growth form variation. Here, we show that lianas are many times more sensitive to drying atmospheric conditions than trees as a result of this trait difference. Further, we use our competition model and projections of tropical hydroclimate based on Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 to show that lianas are more susceptible to reaching a hydraulic threshold for viability by 2100.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Safeguarding Earth’s tree diversity is a conservation priority due to the importance of trees for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services such as carbon sequestration. Here, we improve the foundation for effective conservation of global tree diversity by analyzing a recently developed database of tree species covering 46,752 species. We quantify range protection and anthropogenic pressures for each species and develop conservation priorities across taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity dimensions. We also assess the effectiveness of several influential proposed conservation prioritization frameworks to protect the top 17% and top 50% of tree priority areas. We find that an average of 50.2% of a tree species’ range occurs in 110-km grid cells without any protected areas (PAs), with 6,377 small-range tree species fully unprotected, and that 83% of tree species experience nonnegligible human pressure across their range on average. Protecting high-priority areas for the top 17% and 50% priority thresholds would increase the average protected proportion of each tree species’ range to 65.5% and 82.6%, respectively, leaving many fewer species (2,151 and 2,010) completely unprotected. The priority areas identified for trees match well to the Global 200 Ecoregions framework, revealing that priority areas for trees would in large part also optimizemore »protection for terrestrial biodiversity overall. Based on range estimates for >46,000 tree species, our findings show that a large proportion of tree species receive limited protection by current PAs and are under substantial human pressure. Improved protection of biodiversity overall would also strongly benefit global tree diversity.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2023
  4. Penuelas, Josep (Ed.)
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  5. Understanding how environmental adaptations mediate plant and ecosystem responses becomes increasingly important under accelerating global environmental change. Multi-stemmed trees, for example, differ in form and function from single-stemmed trees and may possess physiological advantages that allow for persistence during stressful climatic events such as extended drought. Following the worst drought in Hawaii in a century, we examined patterns of stem abundance and turnover in a Hawaiian lowland dry forest (LDF) and a montane wet forest (MWF) to investigate how multi-stemmed trees might influence site persistence, and how stem abundance and turnover relate to key functional traits. We found stem abundance and multi-stemmed trees to be an important component for climate resilience within the LDF. The LDF had higher relative abundance of multi-stemmed trees, stem abundance, and mean stem abundance compared to a reference MWF. Within the LDF, multi-stemmed trees had higher relative stem abundance (i.e., percent composition of stems to the total number of stems in the LDF) and higher estimated aboveground carbon than single-stemmed trees. Stem abundance varied among species and tree size classes. Stem turnover (i.e., change in stem abundance between five-year censuses) varied among species and tree size classes and species mean stem turnover was correlated withmore »mean species stem abundance per tree. At the plot level, stem abundance per tree is also a predictor of survival, though mortality did not differ between multiple- and single-stemmed trees. Lastly, species with higher mean stem abundance per tree tended to have traits associated with a higher light-saturated photosynthetic rate, suggesting greater productivity in periods with higher water supply. Identifying the traits that allow species and forest communities to persist in dry environments or respond to disturbance is useful for forecasting ecological climate resilience or potential for restoration in tropical dry forests.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
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  10. Abstract Plant functional traits can predict community assembly and ecosystem functioning and are thus widely used in global models of vegetation dynamics and land–climate feedbacks. Still, we lack a global understanding of how land and climate affect plant traits. A previous global analysis of six traits observed two main axes of variation: (1) size variation at the organ and plant level and (2) leaf economics balancing leaf persistence against plant growth potential. The orthogonality of these two axes suggests they are differently influenced by environmental drivers. We find that these axes persist in a global dataset of 17 traits across more than 20,000 species. We find a dominant joint effect of climate and soil on trait variation. Additional independent climate effects are also observed across most traits, whereas independent soil effects are almost exclusively observed for economics traits. Variation in size traits correlates well with a latitudinal gradient related to water or energy limitation. In contrast, variation in economics traits is better explained by interactions of climate with soil fertility. These findings have the potential to improve our understanding of biodiversity patterns and our predictions of climate change impacts on biogeochemical cycles.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023