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Resistance of African tropical forests to an extreme climate anomaly.

Authors
  • Bennett, Amy C1
  • Dargie, Greta C2
  • Cuni-Sanchez, Aida3, 4
  • Tshibamba Mukendi, John5, 6, 7
  • Hubau, Wannes2, 5, 8
  • Mukinzi, Jacques M9, 10, 11
  • Phillips, Oliver L2
  • Malhi, Yadvinder12
  • Sullivan, Martin J P2, 13
  • Cooper, Declan L M4
  • Adu-Bredu, Stephen14
  • Affum-Baffoe, Kofi15
  • Amani, Christian A16, 17
  • Banin, Lindsay F18
  • Beeckman, Hans5
  • Begne, Serge K2, 19
  • Bocko, Yannick E20
  • Boeckx, Pascal21
  • Bogaert, Jan22
  • Brncic, Terry23
  • And 41 more
  • 1 School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; [email protected]. , (United Kingdom)
  • 2 School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, York, YO10 5NG, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 Department of Geography, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 5 Service of Wood Biology, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, 3080 Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 6 Faculté de Gestion de Ressources Naturelles Renouvelables, Université de Kisangani, Kisangani, R408, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 7 Faculté des Sciences Appliquées, Université de Mbujimayi, Mbujimayi, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 8 Department of Environment, Laboratory of Wood Technology, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 9 Democratic Republic of Congo Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 10 Salonga National Park, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 11 World Wide Fund for Nature, 1196 Gland, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 12 Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University, Oxford, OX1 3QY, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 13 Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15 6BH, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 14 Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Kumasi, Ghana. , (Ghana)
  • 15 Mensuration Unit, Forestry Commission of Ghana, Kumasi, Ghana. , (Ghana)
  • 16 Université Officielle de Bukavu, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 17 Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor 16115, Indonesia. , (Indonesia)
  • 18 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Penicuik, EH26 0QB, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 19 Plant Systematic and Ecology Laboratory, Higher Teachers' Training College, University of Yaounde I, Yaounde, Cameroon. , (Cameroon)
  • 20 Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Laboratoire de Botanique et Ecologie, Université Marien Ngouabi, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 21 Isotope Bioscience Laboratory (ISOFYS), Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 22 Biodiversity and Landscape Unit, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Université de Liège, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 23 Congo Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 24 Rougier-Gabon, Libreville, Gabon. , (Gabon)
  • 25 Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710.
  • 26 Forestry Development Authority of the Government of Liberia (FDA), Monrovia, Liberia. , (Liberia)
  • 27 Faculty of Science, Department of Botany and Plant Physiology, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon. , (Cameroon)
  • 28 TERRA Teaching and Research Centre, Forest Is Life, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liège, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 29 Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, Libreville, Gabon. , (Gabon)
  • 30 Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestiere (CEFRECOF), Epulu, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 31 Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QE, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 32 National Herbarium, Yaounde, Cameroon. , (Cameroon)
  • 33 Forest Global Earth Observatory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Washington, DC 20560.
  • 34 Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, Faculté des Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 35 Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 36 École Normale Supérieure, Département des Sciences et Vie de la Terre, Laboratoire de Géomatique et d'Ecologie Tropicale Appliquée, Université Marien Ngouabi, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 37 Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 38 Department of Environment, Computational & Applied Vegetation Ecology (Cavelab), Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 39 Uganda Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, Kampala, Uganda. , (Uganda)
  • 40 Faculté des Sciences, Laboratoire d'écologie et aménagement forestier, Université de Kisangani, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 41 Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University, Durham, NC 27705.
  • 42 Commission of Central African Forests (COMIFAC), Yaounde, Cameroon. , (Cameroon)
  • 43 Ministry of Forests, Seas, Environment and Climate, Libreville, Gabon. , (Gabon)
  • 44 Bureau Waardenburg, 4101 CK Culemborg, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 45 Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 46 Biodiversity International, Yaounde, Cameroon. , (Cameroon)
  • 47 Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 48 Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511.
  • 49 Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, NY 11224.
  • 50 International Center for Tropical Botany, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, University Park, FL 33199.
  • 51 Faculté des Sciences, Service d'Évolution Biologique et écologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 52 Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale, Libreville, Gabon. , (Gabon)
  • 53 Sommersbergseestrasse, 8990 Bad Aussee, Austria. , (Austria)
  • 54 William R. Tolbert, Jr. College of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia. , (Liberia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
May 25, 2021
Volume
118
Issue
21
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2003169118
PMID: 34001597
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The responses of tropical forests to environmental change are critical uncertainties in predicting the future impacts of climate change. The positive phase of the 2015-2016 El Niño Southern Oscillation resulted in unprecedented heat and low precipitation in the tropics with substantial impacts on the global carbon cycle. The role of African tropical forests is uncertain as their responses to short-term drought and temperature anomalies have yet to be determined using on-the-ground measurements. African tropical forests may be particularly sensitive because they exist in relatively dry conditions compared with Amazonian or Asian forests, or they may be more resistant because of an abundance of drought-adapted species. Here, we report responses of structurally intact old-growth lowland tropical forests inventoried within the African Tropical Rainforest Observatory Network (AfriTRON). We use 100 long-term inventory plots from six countries each measured at least twice prior to and once following the 2015-2016 El Niño event. These plots experienced the highest temperatures and driest conditions on record. The record temperature did not significantly reduce carbon gains from tree growth or significantly increase carbon losses from tree mortality, but the record drought did significantly decrease net carbon uptake. Overall, the long-term biomass increase of these forests was reduced due to the El Niño event, but these plots remained a live biomass carbon sink (0.51 ± 0.40 Mg C ha-1 y-1) despite extreme environmental conditions. Our analyses, while limited to African tropical forests, suggest they may be more resistant to climatic extremes than Amazonian and Asian forests. Copyright © 2021 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

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