Florian Hofhansl

Tropical Ecosystem Research

New study published in Nature Scientific Reports

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Our most recent article “Climatic and edaphic controls over tropical forest diversity and vegetation carbon storage” has been published in Nature Scientific Reports.


In the study we have been investigating how tropical ecosystems – and thus their functioning as global carbon stores – might react to projected future climate change scenarios. Interestingly, we found stark differences in the functional composition of tropical plant species (trees, palms, lianas) across the landscape. For instance, lianas are relatively fast growing and try to reach the canopy to get to the sunlight but do not store as much carbon as a tree stem to reach the same height in the canopy. Palms share a different strategy and mostly stay in the understory while collecting water and nutrients with their bundles of palm leaves arranged upward to catch water and nutrients falling from above and thus reducing local resource limitation. As a result, we found that each functional group was associated with specific climatic conditions and distinct soil properties across the landscape. Since each of these plant functional groups (i.e. trees, palms, lianas) differ in their growth strategy, and thus the amount of C stored in their biomass, this means that we have to account for geomorphological heterogeneity and plant species composition in order to more accurately project future ecosystem responses and associated tropical ecosystem carbon storage. Our study highlighted that it is crucial to gather knowledge from multiple scientific disciplines, such as botany (identifying species), plant ecology (identifying functional strategies), and geology (identifying differences in parent material and soil types – all of which need to be considered in concert to understand the complexity of factors driving tropical forest ecosystem functioning.

Read more about our research here: https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/channels/521-behind-the-paper/posts/61449-climatic-and-edaphic-controls-over-tropical-forest-diversity-and-vegetation-carbon-storage

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