Ecology: Climate controls tree growth

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    Climatic factors such as rainfall, seasonality and temperature have a greater effect on tropical tree growth than logging or soil nutrient levels, a study of Bolivian lowland forests reveals.

    Marisol Toledo of the Bolivian Forest Research Institute in Santa Cruz and her colleagues monitored tree growth in 165 one-hectare plots for periods of up to 11 years, and collected data on climate, soil nutrition and disturbance. They found that logging does increase growth, but to a lesser extent than climate, and the effect disappears six years after trees are felled. Nutrient levels in soil do not have a large effect.

    Forest growth is projected to slow with climate change, as rainfall is predicted to decrease and seasonality to increase in the tropics. However, these changes could be partially offset by rising temperatures.

    J. Ecol. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01741.x (2010)

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    Ecology: Climate controls tree growth. Nature 468, 9 (2010) doi:10.1038/468009d

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