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Water availability is the main climate driver of neotropical tree growth

Wagner F., Rossi V., Stahl C., Bonal D., Hérault B.. 2012. PloS One, 7 (4) : 19 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034074

Climate models for the coming century predict rainfall reduction in the Amazonian region, including change in water availability for tropical rainforests. Here, we test the extent to which climate variables related to water regime, temperature and irradiance shape the growth trajectories of neotropical trees. o We developed a diameter growth model explicitly designed to work with asynchronous climate and growth data. Growth trajectories of 205 individual trees from 54 neotropical species censused every 2 months over a 4-year period were used to rank 9 climate variables and find the best predictive model. o About 9% of the individual variation in tree growth was imputable to the seasonal variation of climate. Relative extractable water was the main predictor and alone explained more than 60% of the climate effect on tree growth, i.e. 5.4% of the individual variation in tree growth. Furthermore, the global annual tree growth was more dependent on the diameter increment at the onset of the rain season than on the duration of dry season. o The best predictive model included 3 climate variables: relative extractable water, minimum temperature and irradiance. The root mean squared error of prediction (0.035 mm.d-1) was slightly above the mean value of the growth (0.026 mm.d-1). o Amongst climate variables, we highlight the predominant role of water availability in determining seasonal variation in tree growth of neotropical forest trees and the need to include these relationships in forest simulators to test, in silico, the impact of different climate scenarios on the future dynamics of the rainforest.

Mots-clés : forêt tropicale humide; modèle de simulation; croissance; arbre forestier; changement climatique; guyane française; france

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