November 8 (UPI) – According to a new survey on Amazonia, the world's largest forest is shifting its composition in response to climate change.
Unfortunately, research suggests that Amazonia does not evolve fast enough. Climate is changing faster than Amazonia can adapt.
In particular, scientists have discovered that tree species that love moisture are dying faster than they can be replaced by species that can withstand drier conditions. The drought in recent decades has damaged large portions of the Amazon.
"The response of the ecosystem is lagging behind the rate of climate change," said Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, geographer at the University of Leeds in a press release. "The data have shown us that the drought that has hit the Amazon basin in recent decades has had serious consequences for the composition of the forest, with greater mortality in tree species more vulnerable to drought and insufficient compensatory growth in species better equipped to survive. on the drier conditions ".
The poll, published this week in the journal Global Change Biology, has also shown that increasing levels of carbon dioxide are benefiting the crown species in the upper layers of the forest.
In addition, some species of smaller trees are benefiting from the increase in CO2 and the death of larger, humid trees.
Previous studies have predicted that the increase in CO2 levels would accelerate at least some forest dynamics, allowing privileged species to increase photosynthesis rates and conquer new territories.
"The increase of some pioneering trees, such as Cecropia extremely fast is consistent with the changes observed in forest dynamics, which could also be driven by increased levels of carbon dioxide," said Oliver Phillips, professor of tropical ecology in Leeds.
While change can help the Amazon adapt to changing conditions, rapid changes can destabilize ecosystems.
"The impact of climate change on forest communities has important consequences for the biodiversity of rainforests," said Kyle Dexter, of the University of Edinburgh. "The species most vulnerable to drought are doubly at risk, as they are typically those limited to fewer points in the heart of the Amazon, which makes them more likely to die out if this process continues."