Title: Tropical forests and global change: filling knowledge gaps
Author: Zuidema, Pieter A.; Baker, Patrick J.; Groenendijk, Peter; Schippers, Peter; Van Der Sleen, Peter; Vlam, Mart; Sterck, Frank
Is part of: TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE, v. 18, p. 413 - 419
Citation: Zuidema, Pieter A.; Baker, Patrick J.; Groenendijk, Peter; Schippers, Peter; Van Der Sleen, Peter; Vlam, Mart; Sterck, Frank; Tropical forests and global change: filling knowledge gaps. TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE, v.18, p. 413-419, 2013
Abstract: Tropical forests will experience major changes in environmental conditions this century. Understanding their responses to such changes is crucial to predicting global carbon cycling. Important knowledge gaps exist: the causes of recent changes in tropical forest dynamics remain unclear and the responses of entire tropical trees to environmental changes are poorly understood. In this Opinion article, we argue that filling these knowledge gaps requires a new research strategy, one that focuses on trees instead of leaves or communities, on long-term instead of short-term changes, and on understanding mechanisms instead of documenting changes. We propose the use of tree-ring analyses, stable-isotope analyses, manipulative field experiments, and well-validated simulation models to improve predictions of forest responses to global change.
Funding: The authors thank Thijs Pons, Niels Anten, and Roel Brienen for contributing ideas and for continued discussion on this topic over the past years. Doug Sheil and Bill Laurance provided valuable comments on a draft manuscript. Joe Wright, Lucas Cernusak, and an anonymous reviewer provided valuable comments on a previous version of this paper. The paper was funded by an ERC grant (No. 242955) awarded to P.A.Z. P.J.B. was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT120100715). P.A.Z. thanks the University of Melbourne for hospitality during a sabbatical.