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Topography shapes the structure, composition and function of tropical forest landscapes

Jucker, T; Bongalov, B; Burslem, DFRP; Nilus, R; Dalponte, M; Lewis, SL; Phillips, OL; ... Coomes, DA; + view all (2018) Topography shapes the structure, composition and function of tropical forest landscapes. Ecology Letters 10.1111/ele.12964. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Topography is a key driver of tropical forest structure and composition, as it constrains local nutrient and hydraulic conditions within which trees grow. Yet, we do not fully understand how changes in forest physiognomy driven by topography impact other emergent properties of forests, such as their aboveground carbon density (ACD). Working in Borneo - at a site where 70-m-tall forests in alluvial valleys rapidly transition to stunted heath forests on nutrient-depleted dip slopes - we combined field data with airborne laser scanning and hyperspectral imaging to characterise how topography shapes the vertical structure, wood density, diversity and ACD of nearly 15 km 2 of old-growth forest. We found that subtle differences in elevation - which control soil chemistry and hydrology - profoundly influenced the structure, composition and diversity of the canopy. Capturing these processes was critical to explaining landscape-scale heterogeneity in ACD, highlighting how emerging remote sensing technologies can provide new insights into long-standing ecological questions.

Type: Article
Title: Topography shapes the structure, composition and function of tropical forest landscapes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/ele.12964
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12964
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by CNRS and John Wiley & Sons Ltd This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048469
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