Ecology

Fruitfulness of forest drought

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  03 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6401, pp. 464-465
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6401.464-e

Prolonged forest stress, such as drought, affects litterfall.

PHOTO: NASA/JPL-CALTECH

Drought resulting from climate change is becoming pervasive. Increasing research effort is being focused on the ecological effects of drought on the world's tropical forested regions. Rowland et al. measured the multiyear effects of drought on the litterfall of leaves, flowers and fruits, and twigs in a Brazilian forest. Drought was simulated by covering a 1-hectare experimental plot with plastic panels 1 to 2 meters above the ground. Litterfall over 14 years was compared with that on an uncovered neighboring plot. Litterfall of flowers and fruits decreased by more than half during the first 4 years. After 10 years, where trees survived, the fall of reproductive parts recovered to levels that exceeded those in the control plot. It appears that prolonged stress can lead to restabilization of forest function.

J. Ecol. 106, 1673 (2018).

Navigate This Article