Hydroclimatic adaptation critical to the resilience of tropical forests
Forest and savanna ecosystems naturally exist as alternative stable states. The maximum capacity of these ecosystems to absorb perturbations without transitioning to the other alternative stable state is referred to as ‘resilience’. Previous studies have determined the resilience of terrestrial ecosystems to hydroclimatic changes predominantly based on space-for-time substitution. This substitution assumes that the contemporary spatial frequency distribution of ecosystems’ tree cover structure holds across time. However, this assumption is problematic since ecosystem adaptation over time is ignored.
Here we empirically study tropical forests’ stability and hydroclimatic adaptation dynamics by examining remotely sensed tree cover change (ΔTC; aboveground ecosystem structural change) and root zone storage capacity (Sr; buffer capacity towards water-stress) over the last two decades. We find that ecosystems at high (>75%) and low (<10%) tree cover adapt by instigating considerable subsoil investment, and therefore experience limited ΔTC—signifying stability. In contrast, unstable ecosystems at intermediate (30%–60%) tree cover are unable to exploit the same level of adaptation as stable ecosystems, thus showing considerable ΔTC. Ignoring this adaptive mechanism can underestimate the resilience of the forest ecosystems, which we find is largely underestimated in the case of the Congo rainforests. The results from this study emphasise the importance of the ecosystem's temporal dynamics and adaptation in inferring and assessing the risk of forest-savannah transitions under rapid hydroclimatic change.
Research news | 2024-02-20
Having good neighbours and few top predators make predatory fish populations more resilient
A regime shift is gradually spreading through the archipelagos of the Swedish Baltic Sea coast, where shallow bays, previously dominated by pike and perch have one by one become dominated by one of their prey species, the three-spined stickleback.
Research news | 2024-02-08
Eating new plant-based foods can be good for the environment, your health and your economy
Replacing animal-source foods with plant-based alternatives or whole foods decreases environmental impact, meets nutrition recommendations, and can be cost-competitive with the current average Swedish diet
Research news | 2024-01-29
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Research news | 2024-01-24
Centralised social networks can hinder innovation by making decision-making too similar
Social systems where influence is centred around one or two individuals can lead to pack mentality and groupthink in farming communities
Research news | 2024-01-23
Planetary Commons: Fostering global cooperation to safeguard critical Earth system functions
We should look at tipping elements of the Earth system as global commons, argue researchers in a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Research news | 2024-01-22
Soy: A world journey from success to uncertainty
From a bean valued for its multitude of functions in ancient China to one of the most traded agricultural commodities of the modern world: the soybean has gone through dramatic changes throughout the millennia.