Seasonal drought limits tree species across the Neotropics

Esquivel Muelbert, Adriane and Baker, Timothy and Dexter, Kyle and Lewis, Simon and ter Steege, Hans and Lopez-Gonzales, Gabriela and Monteagudo Mendoza, Abel and Brienen, Roel J.W. and Feldpausch, Ted R. and Pitman, Nigel and Alonso, Alfonso and van der Heijden, Geertje M.F. and Pena-Claros, Marielos and Ahuite, Manuel and Alexiaides, Miguel and Alvarez-Davilla, Esteban and Araujo Murakami, Alejandro and Arroyo, Luzmilla and Aulestia, Milton and Balslev, Hendrik and Barroso, Jocely and Boot, Rene and Cano, Angela and Chama, Victor and Comiskey, Jim and Dallmeier, Francisco and Daly, Doug and Davlia, Nallaret and Duivenvoorden, Joost and Duque Montoja, Alvaro and Erwin, Terry and Di Fiore, Anthony and Frederickson, Todd and Fuentes, Alfredo and Garcia-Villacorta, Roosevelt and Gonzalez, Therany and Guevara, Juan and Honorio, Euridice and Huamantupa-Chuquimaco, Imau and Killeen, Timothy and Malhi, Yadvinder and Mendoza, Casimiro and Mogollon, Hugo and Møller Jørgensen, Peter and Montero, Juan and Mostacedo, Banifacio and Nauray, William and Neill, David and Nunez Vargas, Percy and Palacios, Sonia and Palacios, Walter and Pallqui Camacho, Nadir and Peacock, Julie and Phillips, Juan and Pickavance, Georgia and Quesada, Carlos and Ramirez-Angula, Hirma and Restrepo, Zorayda and Rodriguez, Carlos and Paredes, Marcos and Sierra, Rodrigo and Silveira, Marcos and Stevenson, Pablo and Stropp, Juliana and Terborgh, John and Tirado, Milton and Toledo, Marisol and Torres-Lezama, Armando and Umana, Natalia and Urrego, Ligia and Vasquez, Rodolfo and Valenzuela, Luis and Vela, Cesar and Vilanova, Emilio and Vos, Vincent and von Hildebrand, Patricio and Vriesendorp, Corinne and Wang, Ophelia and Young, Kenneth and Zartman, Eugene and Phillips, Oliver and Cornejo, F. (2016) Seasonal drought limits tree species across the Neotropics. Ecography . ISSN 1600-0587 (In Press)

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Within the tropics, the species richness of tree communities is strongly and positively associated with precipitation. Previous research has suggested that this macroecological pattern is driven by the negative effect of water-stress on the physiological processes of most tree species. This process implies that the range limits of taxa are defined by their ability to occur under dry conditions, and thus in terms of species distributions it predicts a nested pattern of taxa distribution from wet to dry areas. However, this ‘dry-tolerance’ hypothesis has yet to be adequately tested at large spatial and taxonomic scales. Here, using a dataset of 531 inventory plots of closed canopy forest distributed across the Western Neotropics we investigated how precipitation, evaluated both as mean annual precipitation and as the maximum climatological water deficit, influences the distribution of tropical tree species, genera and families. We find that the distributions of tree taxa are indeed nested along precipitation gradients in the western Neotropics. Taxa tolerant to seasonal drought are disproportionally widespread across the precipitation gradient, with most reaching even the wettest climates sampled; however, most taxa analysed are restricted to wet areas. Our results suggest that the ‘dry tolerance’ hypothesis has broad applicability in the world's most species-rich forests. In addition, the large number of species restricted to wetter conditions strongly indicates that an increased frequency of drought could severely threaten biodiversity in this region. Overall, this study establishes a baseline for exploring how tropical forest tree composition may change in response to current and future environmental changes in this region.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Adriane Esquivel Muelbert [et al.], Seasonal drought limits tree species across the Neotropics, Ecography, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Geography
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Depositing User: Van Der heijden, Geertje
Date Deposited: 25 May 2016 11:00
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 07:04

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