Coordination between leaf and fruit phenology driven by a warm phase of ENSO.
It has been suggested that tree phenology may be regulated by climatic oscillations. Here, a team of scientists from the NGEE-Tropics project present a 30-year tropical forest dataset that suggests leaf and fruit production is coordinated with ENSO cycles, with greater leaf fall observed prior to El Niño followed by greater seed production.
The response of tropical forests to ENSO events and, in general, to drought and other environmental stress, are still under exploration. Here, they show a relatively strong response of tropical phenology (fruiting and leafing) to a warming phase of ENSO. This discovery can help to understand the mechanisms of response or adaptation of plants to climate variability and pave the road to their implementation into Earth Ecosystem Models.
For the first time an interaction between phenophases of tropical plants (leafing and fruiting) is shown to be driven by large scale periodic climate variations. This interaction mirrors the dynamics between dry and wet season, suggesting adaptive strategies to optimize reproduction and resource acquisition in response to environmental stress.
Contacts (BER PM)
Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Princeton University and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
The Environmental Sciences Program of the Smithsonian Institution funded data collection. M.D. was partially supported by the US Department of Energy Office of Science NGEE-Tropics. Raul Rios, Brian Harvey, and Steven Paton collected the BCI climate data.
Detto, M., S.J. Wright, O. Calderón, O. and H.C. Muller-Landau. “Resource acquisition and reproductive strategies of tropical forest in response to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.” Nature Communications 9, No. 913 (2018). [DOI:10.1038/s41467-018-03306-9]
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