Leaf development and demography explain photosynthetic seasonality in Amazon evergreen forests

DOE, Univ. of Arizona, FAPESP, FAPEAM and several universities and institutions in the U.S., Brazil and Australia.
By: , and 



In evergreen tropical forests, the extent, magnitude, and controls on photosynthetic seasonality are poorly resolved and inadequately represented in Earth system models. Combining camera observations with ecosystem carbon dioxide fluxes at forests across rainfall gradients in Amazônia, we show that aggregate canopy phenology, not seasonality of climate drivers, is the primary cause of photosynthetic seasonality in these forests. Specifically, synchronization of new leaf growth with dry season litterfall shifts canopy composition toward younger, more light-use efficient leaves, explaining large seasonal increases (~27%) in ecosystem photosynthesis. Coordinated leaf development and demography thus reconcile seemingly disparate observations at different scales and indicate that accounting for leaf-level phenology is critical for accurately simulating ecosystem-scale responses to climate change.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Leaf development and demography explain photosynthetic seasonality in Amazon evergreen forests
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.aad5068
Volume 351
Issue 6276
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Publisher location New York
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Science
First page 972
Last page 976
Other Geospatial Amazon Rainforest
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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