Track: Organized Oral Session
Climate models suggest that droughts at low latitudes/in tropical ecosystems may become more frequent and/or more severe in the coming decades due to anthropogenic climate change. Droughts are known to cause myriad disruptions to tropical forest ecology, including via tree mortality and shifts in biogeochemical cycling. Numerous open questions remain about how a changing drought regime might affect tropical forests, including whether there will be widespread or substantial changes to the soil or vegetation carbon (C) sinks, to biodiversity and plant physiology, or to nutrients such as nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P). Drought manipulation studies are a powerful tool for assessing soil drought of varying lengths of time and degrees of severity and can lend insight into how future drought regimes may affect ecosystem functioning. The response of forests to natural drought often differ from those of experimental drought, providing critical context; both are important ways of studying ecosystem response to drought. In this session, experts will discuss lessons learned from drought studies in tropical forest systems, with a particular focus on either plant physiological responses (e.g., from stem to sky and across communities) or changes to biogeochemical cycling (e.g., estimating how C, N and P cycles may be affected). How can drought studies improve our broader understanding of the risks posed to tropical forests by global change? In particular, this session has three objectives: 1) review findings that have emerged from drought studies in the tropics, 2) compare and contrast observations across systems and areas of the globe, and 3) identify new directions of inquiry that ought to be prioritized for investigation. Speakers will discuss primary research conducted across the tropics from a mix of perspectives – included are talks appealing to plant ecologists, ecosystem ecologists, soil scientists, microbial ecologists, and ecohydrologists given by researchers from early-career to established scientists. This session will provide an overview of how droughts are affecting tropical ecosystems and highlight critical questions moving forward, making it useful for scientists operating at diverse scales and in systems both outside and across the tropics.
Presenting Author: Maria Uriarte – Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University
Presenting Author: German Vargas G. – Plant and Microbial Biology, University of Minnesota
Presenting Author: Omar Gutierrez del Arroyo – Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California Berkeley
Presenting Author: Daniela Cusack – Ecosystem Science & Sustainability, Colorado State University
Presenting Author: Patrick Meir – Research School of Biology, Australian National University
Presenting Author: Oliver Binks – Australian National University