Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Ecosystem heterogeneity and diversity mitigate Amazon forest resilience to frequent extreme droughts.

  • Longo, Marcos1, 2
  • Knox, Ryan G3
  • Levine, Naomi M4
  • Alves, Luciana F5
  • Bonal, Damien6
  • Camargo, Plinio B7
  • Fitzjarrald, David R8
  • Hayek, Matthew N1
  • Restrepo-Coupe, Natalia9, 10
  • Saleska, Scott R10
  • da Silva, Rodrigo11
  • Stark, Scott C12
  • Tapajós, Raphael P11
  • Wiedemann, Kenia T1
  • Zhang, Ke13
  • Wofsy, Steven C1
  • Moorcroft, Paul R1
  • 1 Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA.
  • 2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, 91109, USA.
  • 3 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
  • 4 University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 90007, USA.
  • 5 Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA.
  • 6 INRA, UMR EEF, 54280, Champenoux, France. , (France)
  • 7 Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Universidade de São Paulo, Piracicaba, SP, 13416-000, Brazil. , (Brazil)
  • 8 University at Albany SUNY, Albany, NY, 12222, USA.
  • 9 Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2007, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 10 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA.
  • 11 Universidade Federal do Oeste do Pará, Santarém, PA, 68040-255, USA.
  • 12 Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA.
  • 13 Hohai University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, China. , (China)
Published Article
New Phytologist
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2018
DOI: 10.1111/nph.15185
PMID: 29786858


The impact of increases in drought frequency on the Amazon forest's composition, structure and functioning remain uncertain. We used a process- and individual-based ecosystem model (ED2) to quantify the forest's vulnerability to increased drought recurrence. We generated meteorologically realistic, drier-than-observed rainfall scenarios for two Amazon forest sites, Paracou (wetter) and Tapajós (drier), to evaluate the impacts of more frequent droughts on forest biomass, structure and composition. The wet site was insensitive to the tested scenarios, whereas at the dry site biomass declined when average rainfall reduction exceeded 15%, due to high mortality of large-sized evergreen trees. Biomass losses persisted when year-long drought recurrence was shorter than 2-7 yr, depending upon soil texture and leaf phenology. From the site-level scenario results, we developed regionally applicable metrics to quantify the Amazon forest's climatological proximity to rainfall regimes likely to cause biomass loss > 20% in 50 yr according to ED2 predictions. Nearly 25% (1.8 million km2 ) of the Amazon forests could experience frequent droughts and biomass loss if mean annual rainfall or interannual variability changed by 2σ. At least 10% of the high-emission climate projections (CMIP5/RCP8.5 models) predict critically dry regimes over 25% of the Amazon forest area by 2100. © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times