In DepthEcology

Forest giants are the trees most at risk

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6457, pp. 962-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6457.962

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

The biggest trees, standing tall through storms and harsh winters, may look invincible. But a series of recent studies analyzing the effects of lightning, drought, and invasive pests on forests indicates that for trees, size is not strength, and forest giants are disproportionately vulnerable. With all three stresses likely to grow, big trees could become an even weaker point in beleaguered forests. Their loss may put entire ecosystems at risk of collapsing, research has suggested. Large trees are also major storehouses of carbon—one study from the 1990s found they account for about 50% of the carbon stored in forests—and their deaths release that carbon into the atmosphere, which could exacerbate climate change.

View Full Text