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Keywords:

  • Amazon rainforest;
  • biomass;
  • drought;
  • tree mortality;
  • wood production

Summary

  • At least one climate model predicts severe reductions of rainfall over Amazonia during this century. Long-term throughfall exclusion (TFE) experiments represent the best available means to investigate the resilience of the Amazon rainforest to such droughts.
  • Results are presented from a 7 yr TFE study at Caxiuanã National Forest, eastern Amazonia. We focus on the impacts of the drought on tree mortality, wood production and above-ground biomass.
  • Tree mortality in the TFE plot over the experimental period was 2.5% yr−1, compared with 1.25% yr−1 in a nearby control plot experiencing normal rainfall. Differences in stem mortality between plots were greatest in the largest (> 40 cm diameter at breast height (dbh)) size class (4.1% yr−1 in the TFE and 1.4% yr−1 in the control). Wood production in the TFE plot was c. 30% lower than in the control plot. Together, these changes resulted in a loss of 37.8 ± 2.0 Mg carbon (C) ha−1 in the TFE plot (2002–2008), compared with no change in the control.
  • These results are remarkably consistent with those from another TFE (at Tapajós National Forest), suggesting that eastern Amazonian forests may respond to prolonged drought in a predictable manner.