EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Hydraulic-trait diversity increases tropical forest resistance to water deficits. 

Liam Langan1, Simon Scheiter1, Thomas Hickler1, and Steven Higgins2
Liam Langan et al.
  • 1Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Georg-Voigt-Straße 14, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
  • 2Plant Ecology, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstraße 30, Bayreuth, Germany.

Amazon rainforests host a unique biodiversity, store vast amounts of carbon, and are an essential component of the Earth System. Future water balance changes put the Amazon's carbon storage potential at risk. Evidence from grasslands indicates that diversity can mediate responses to drought; however, it remains unclear how tropical forests will respond. We show that functional diversity increases forest resistance to biomass loss during sudden catastrophic drought and chronic climate change-associated precipitation reductions by up to 25%. Using a model capable of simulating drought responses and functional diversity, we found that distinct strategies emerged along hydraulic and carbon allocation axes of trait variation. Climate change and elevated CO2 caused the re-assembly of communities towards increased water-triggered phenological strategy dominance, whereas climate change alone negatively influenced biomass stored across all strategies. By removing water-triggered evergreen and deciduous strategies, we show that more biomass is lost in the absence of these strategies and thus clearly illustrate that higher diversity buffers the impacts of water balance changes. Our results demonstrate that a predictive understanding of trait diversity and plant hydraulic traits is essential to understand the complexity of diversity-biomass relations under future climate. 

How to cite: Langan, L., Scheiter, S., Hickler, T., and Higgins, S.: Hydraulic-trait diversity increases tropical forest resistance to water deficits. , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5972,, 2023.