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    Rights statement: Copyright by the Ecological Society of America, Elias, F., Ferreira, J., Lennox, G. D., Berenguer, E., Ferreira, S., Schwartz, G., Melo, L. O., Reis Júnior, D. N., Nascimento, R. O., Ferreira, F. N., Espirito‐Santo, F., Smith, C. C., and Barlow, J.. 2019. Assessing the growth and climate sensitivity of secondary forests in highly deforested Amazonian landscapes. Ecology 00(00):e02954. 10.1002/ecy.2954

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Assessing the growth and climate sensitivity of secondary forests in highly deforested Amazonian landscapes

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Article number02954
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/03/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Ecology
Issue number3
Volume101
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished
Early online date23/01/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Tropical forests hold 30% of Earth’s terrestrial carbon and at least 60% of its terrestrial biodiversity, but forest loss and degradation are jeopardizing these ecosystems. Although the regrowth of secondary forests has the potential to offset some of the losses of carbon and biodiversity, it remains unclear if secondary regeneration will be affected by climate changes such as higher temperatures and more frequent extreme droughts. We used a data set of 10 repeated forest inventories spanning two decades (1999–2017) to investigate carbon and tree species recovery and how climate and landscape context influence carbon dynamics in an older secondary forest located in one of the oldest post‐Columbian agricultural frontiers in the Brazilian Amazon. Carbon accumulation averaged 1.08 Mg·ha−1·yr−1, and species richness was effectively constant over the studied period. Moreover, we provide evidence that secondary forests are vulnerable to drought stress: Carbon balance and growth rates were lower in drier periods. This contrasts with drought responses in primary forests, where changes in carbon dynamics are driven by increased stem mortality. These results highlight an important climate change–vegetation feedback, whereby the increasing dry‐season lengths being observed across parts of Amazonia may reduce the effectiveness of secondary forests in sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. In addition, the current rate of forest regrowth in this region was low compared with previous pan‐tropical and Amazonian assessments—our secondary forests reached just 41.1% of the average carbon and 56% of the tree diversity in the nearest primary forests—suggesting that these areas are unlikely to return to their original levels on politically meaningful time scales.

Bibliographic note

Copyright by the Ecological Society of America, Elias, F., Ferreira, J., Lennox, G. D., Berenguer, E., Ferreira, S., Schwartz, G., Melo, L. O., Reis Júnior, D. N., Nascimento, R. O., Ferreira, F. N., Espirito‐Santo, F., Smith, C. C., and Barlow, J.. 2019. Assessing the growth and climate sensitivity of secondary forests in highly deforested Amazonian landscapes. Ecology 00(00):e02954. 10.1002/ecy.2954