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    Sensitivity of South American tropical forests to an extreme climate anomaly

    Bennett, Amy C, Rodrigues de Sousa, Thaiane, Monteagudo-Mendoza, Abel, Esquivel-Muelbert, Adriane, Morandi, Paulo S, Coelho de Souza, Fernanda, Castro, Wendeson, Duque, Luisa Fernanda, Flores Llampazo, Gerardo, Manoel dos Santos, Rubens, Ramos, Eliana, Vilanova Torre, Emilio, Alvarez-Davila, Esteban, Baker, Timothy R, Costa, Flávia RC, Lewis, Simon L, Marimon, Beatriz S, Schietti, Juliana, Burban, Benoît, Berenguer, Erika, Araujo-Murakami, Alejandro, Restrepo Correa, Zorayda, Lopez, Wilmar, Delgado Santana, Flávia, Viscarra, Laura Jessica, Elias, Fernando, Vasquez Martinez, Rodolfo, Marimon-Junior, Ben Hur, Galbraith, David, Sullivan, Martin JP ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5955-0483, Emilio, Thaise, Prestes, Nayane CCS, Barlow, Jos, Alencar Fagundes, Nathalle Cristine, Almeida de Oliveira, Edmar, Alvarez Loayza, Patricia, Alves, Luciana F, Aparecida Vieira, Simone, Andrade Maia, Vinícius, Aragão, Luiz EOC, Arets, Eric JMM, Arroyo, Luzmila, Bánki, Olaf, Baraloto, Christopher, Barbosa Camargo, Plínio, Barroso, Jorcely, Bento da Silva, Wilder, Bonal, Damien, Borges Miranda Santos, Alisson, Brienen, Roel JW, Brown, Foster, Castilho, Carolina V, Cerruto Ribeiro, Sabina, Chama Moscoso, Victor, Chavez, Ezequiel, Comiskey, James A, Cornejo Valverde, Fernando, Dávila Cardozo, Nállarett, de Aguiar-Campos, Natália, de Oliveira Melo, Lia, del Aguila Pasquel, Jhon, Derroire, Géraldine, Disney, Mathias, do Socorro, Maria, Dourdain, Aurélie, Feldpausch, Ted R, Ferreira, Joice, Forni Martins, Valeria, Gardner, Toby, Gloor, Emanuel, Gutierrez Sibauty, Gloria, Guillen, René, Hase, Eduardo, Hérault, Bruno, Honorio Coronado, Eurídice N, Huaraca Huasco, Walter, Janovec, John P, Jimenez-Rojas, Eliana, Joly, Carlos, Kalamandeen, Michelle, Killeen, Timothy J, Lais Farrapo, Camila, Levesley, Aurora, Lizon Romano, Leon, Lopez Gonzalez, Gabriela, Maës dos Santos, Flavio Antonio, Magnusson, William E, Malhi, Yadvinder, Matias de Almeida Reis, Simone, Melgaço, Karina, Melo Cruz, Omar A, Mendoza Polo, Irina, Montañez, Tatiana, Morel, Jean Daniel, Núñez Vargas, M Percy, Oliveira de Araújo, Raimunda, Pallqui Camacho, Nadir C, Parada Gutierrez, Alexander, Pennington, Toby, Pickavance, Georgia C, Pipoly, John, Pitman, Nigel CA, Quesada, Carlos, Ramirez Arevalo, Freddy, Ramírez‐Angulo, Hirma, Flora Ramos, Rafael, Richardson, James E, Rodrigo de Souza, Cléber, Roopsind, Anand, Schwartz, Gustavo, Silva, Richarlly C, Silva Espejo, Javier, Silveira, Marcos, Singh, James, Soto Shareva, Yhan, Steininger, Marc, Stropp, Juliana, Talbot, Joey, ter Steege, Hans, Terborgh, John, Thomas, Raquel, Valenzuela Gamarra, Luis, van der Heijden, Geertje, van der Hout, Peter, Zagt, Roderick and Phillips, Oliver L (2023) Sensitivity of South American tropical forests to an extreme climate anomaly. Nature Climate Change, 13 (9). pp. 967-974. ISSN 1758-678X

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    Abstract

    The tropical forest carbon sink is known to be drought sensitive, but it is unclear which forests are the most vulnerable to extreme events. Forests with hotter and drier baseline conditions may be protected by prior adaptation, or more vulnerable because they operate closer to physiological limits. Here we report that forests in drier South American climates experienced the greatest impacts of the 2015–2016 El Niño, indicating greater vulnerability to extreme temperatures and drought. The long-term, ground-measured tree-by-tree responses of 123 forest plots across tropical South America show that the biomass carbon sink ceased during the event with carbon balance becoming indistinguishable from zero (−0.02 ± 0.37 Mg C ha<jats:sup>−1</jats:sup> per year). However, intact tropical South American forests overall were no more sensitive to the extreme 2015–2016 El Niño than to previous less intense events, remaining a key defence against climate change as long as they are protected.

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