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Ecosystem structural changes controlled by altered rainfall climatology in tropical savannas

Zhang, Wenmin; Brandt, Martin; Penuelas, Josep; Guichard, Françoise; Tong, Xiaoye; Tian, Feng LU and Fensholt, Rasmus (2019) In Nature Communications 10(1).
Abstract


Tropical savannas comprise mixed woodland grassland ecosystems in which trees and grasses compete for water resources thereby maintaining the spatial structuring of this ecosystem. A global change in rainfall climatology may impact the structure of tropical savanna ecosystems by favouring woody plants, relative to herbaceous vegetation. Here we analysed satellite data and observed a relatively higher increase in woody vegetation (5%) as compared to the increase in annual maximum leaf area index (LAI
max
, an indicator of the total green... (More)


Tropical savannas comprise mixed woodland grassland ecosystems in which trees and grasses compete for water resources thereby maintaining the spatial structuring of this ecosystem. A global change in rainfall climatology may impact the structure of tropical savanna ecosystems by favouring woody plants, relative to herbaceous vegetation. Here we analysed satellite data and observed a relatively higher increase in woody vegetation (5%) as compared to the increase in annual maximum leaf area index (LAI
max
, an indicator of the total green vegetation production) (3%) in arid and semi-arid savannas over recent decades. We further observed a declining sensitivity of LAI
max
to annual rainfall over 56% of the tropical savannas, spatially overlapping with areas of increased woody cover and altered rainfall climatology. This suggests a climate-induced shift in the coexistence of woody and herbaceous vegetation in savanna ecosystems, possibly caused by altered hydrological conditions with significance for land cover and associated biophysical effects such as surface albedo and evapotranspiration.

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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature Communications
volume
10
issue
1
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85061230264
ISSN
2041-1723
DOI
10.1038/s41467-019-08602-6
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8007a9b1-eda2-486a-8cb1-ff2befde50e0
date added to LUP
2019-02-18 13:16:13
date last changed
2019-03-19 04:05:32
@article{8007a9b1-eda2-486a-8cb1-ff2befde50e0,
  abstract     = {<p><br>
                                                         Tropical savannas comprise mixed woodland grassland ecosystems in which trees and grasses compete for water resources thereby maintaining the spatial structuring of this ecosystem. A global change in rainfall climatology may impact the structure of tropical savanna ecosystems by favouring woody plants, relative to herbaceous vegetation. Here we analysed satellite data and observed a relatively higher increase in woody vegetation (5%) as compared to the increase in annual maximum leaf area index (LAI                             <br>
                            <sub>max</sub><br>
                                                         , an indicator of the total green vegetation production) (3%) in arid and semi-arid savannas over recent decades. We further observed a declining sensitivity of LAI                             <br>
                            <sub>max</sub><br>
                                                          to annual rainfall over 56% of the tropical savannas, spatially overlapping with areas of increased woody cover and altered rainfall climatology. This suggests a climate-induced shift in the coexistence of woody and herbaceous vegetation in savanna ecosystems, possibly caused by altered hydrological conditions with significance for land cover and associated biophysical effects such as surface albedo and evapotranspiration.                         <br>
                        </p>},
  articleno    = {671},
  author       = {Zhang, Wenmin and Brandt, Martin and Penuelas, Josep and Guichard, Françoise and Tong, Xiaoye and Tian, Feng and Fensholt, Rasmus},
  issn         = {2041-1723},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature Communications},
  title        = {Ecosystem structural changes controlled by altered rainfall climatology in tropical savannas},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08602-6},
  volume       = {10},
  year         = {2019},
}