The sensitivity of wood production to seasonal and interannual variations in climate in a lowland Amazonian rainforest

Lucy Rowland, Y. Malhi, J. E. Silva-Espejo, F. Farfán-Amézquita, K. Halladay, C. E. Doughty, P. Meir, O. L. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Understanding climatic controls on tropical forest productivity is key to developing more reliable models for predicting how tropical biomes may respond to climate change. Currently there is no consensus on which factors control seasonal changes in tropical forest tree growth. This study reports the first comprehensive plot-level description of the seasonality of growth in a Peruvian tropical forest. We test whether seasonal and interannual variations in climate are correlated with changes in biomass increment, and whether such relationships differ among trees with different functional traits. We found that biomass increments, measured every 3 months on the two plots, were reduced by between 40 and 55 % in the peak dry season (July-September) relative to peak wet season (January-March). The seasonal patterns of biomass accumulation are significantly (p < 0.01) associated with seasonal patterns of rainfall and soil water content; however, this may reflect a synchrony of seasonal cycles rather than direct physiological controls on tree growth rates. The strength of the growth seasonality response among trees is significantly correlated to functional traits: consistent with a hypothesised trade-off between maximum potential growth rate and hydraulic safety, tall and fast-growing trees with broad stems had the most strongly seasonal biomass accumulation, suggesting that they are more productive in the wet season, but more vulnerable to water limitation in the dry season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazon rainforest
  • Functional traits
  • Seasonality
  • Soil water availability
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Tropical tree growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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