Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms

A recipe for tropical forest degradation

Divino V. Silvério, Paulo M. Brando, Mercedes M.C. Bustamante, Francis E. Putz, Daniel Magnabosco Marra, Shaun R. Levick, Susan E. Trumbore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Widespread degradation of tropical forests is caused by a variety of disturbances that interact in ways that are not well understood. To explore potential synergies between edge effects, fire and windstorm damage as causes of Amazonian forest degradation, we quantified vegetation responses to a 30-min, high-intensity windstorm that in 2012, swept through a large-scale fire experiment that borders an agricultural field. Our pre- and postwindstorm measurements include tree mortality rates and modes of death, above-ground biomass, and airborne LiDAR-based estimates of tree heights and canopy disturbance (i.e., number and size of gaps). The experimental area in the southeastern Amazonia includes three 50-ha plots established in 2004 that were unburned (Control), burned annually (B1yr), or burned at 3-year intervals (B3yr). The windstorm caused greater damage to trees (>10 cm DBH) in the burned plots (B1yr: 13 ± 9% of 785 trees; B3yr: 17 ± 13% of 433) than in the Control plot (8 ± 4% of 2,300; ± CI). It substantially reduced vegetation height by 14% in B1yr, 20% in B3yr and 12% in the Control plots, while it reduced above-ground biomass by 18% of 77.7 Mg/ha (B1yr), 31% of 56.6 (B3yr), and 15% of 120 (Control). Tree damage was greatest near the agricultural field edge in all three plots, especially among large trees and in B3yr. Trunk snapping (70%) and uprooting (20%) were the most common modes of tree damage and mortality, with the height of trunk failure on the burned plots often corresponding with the height of historical fire scars. Of the windstorm-damaged trees, 80% (B1yr), 90% (B3yr), and 57% (Control) were dead 4 years later. Trees that had crown damage experienced the least mortality (22%–60%), followed by those that were snapped (55%–94%) and uprooted (88%–94%). Synthesis. We demonstrate the synergistic effects of three kinds of disturbances on a tropical forest. Our results show that the effects of windstorms are exacerbated by prior degradation by fire and fragmentation. We highlight that understorey fires can produce long-lasting effects on tropical forests not only by directly killing trees but also by increasing tree vulnerability to wind damage due to fire scars and a more open canopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-667
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume107
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

tropical forests
tropical forest
fragmentation
degradation
fire scars
tree damage
damage
tree mortality
edge effects
aboveground biomass
tree trunk
canopy
disturbance
mortality
vegetation
Amazonia
tree crown
understory
edge effect
death

Cite this

Silvério, D. V., Brando, P. M., Bustamante, M. M. C., Putz, F. E., Marra, D. M., Levick, S. R., & Trumbore, S. E. (2019). Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms: A recipe for tropical forest degradation. Journal of Ecology, 107(2), 656-667. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13076
Silvério, Divino V. ; Brando, Paulo M. ; Bustamante, Mercedes M.C. ; Putz, Francis E. ; Marra, Daniel Magnabosco ; Levick, Shaun R. ; Trumbore, Susan E. / Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms : A recipe for tropical forest degradation. In: Journal of Ecology. 2019 ; Vol. 107, No. 2. pp. 656-667.
@article{edc1a608a5ae45c4b1892f0c96220ec4,
title = "Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms: A recipe for tropical forest degradation",
abstract = "Widespread degradation of tropical forests is caused by a variety of disturbances that interact in ways that are not well understood. To explore potential synergies between edge effects, fire and windstorm damage as causes of Amazonian forest degradation, we quantified vegetation responses to a 30-min, high-intensity windstorm that in 2012, swept through a large-scale fire experiment that borders an agricultural field. Our pre- and postwindstorm measurements include tree mortality rates and modes of death, above-ground biomass, and airborne LiDAR-based estimates of tree heights and canopy disturbance (i.e., number and size of gaps). The experimental area in the southeastern Amazonia includes three 50-ha plots established in 2004 that were unburned (Control), burned annually (B1yr), or burned at 3-year intervals (B3yr). The windstorm caused greater damage to trees (>10 cm DBH) in the burned plots (B1yr: 13 ± 9{\%} of 785 trees; B3yr: 17 ± 13{\%} of 433) than in the Control plot (8 ± 4{\%} of 2,300; ± CI). It substantially reduced vegetation height by 14{\%} in B1yr, 20{\%} in B3yr and 12{\%} in the Control plots, while it reduced above-ground biomass by 18{\%} of 77.7 Mg/ha (B1yr), 31{\%} of 56.6 (B3yr), and 15{\%} of 120 (Control). Tree damage was greatest near the agricultural field edge in all three plots, especially among large trees and in B3yr. Trunk snapping (70{\%}) and uprooting (20{\%}) were the most common modes of tree damage and mortality, with the height of trunk failure on the burned plots often corresponding with the height of historical fire scars. Of the windstorm-damaged trees, 80{\%} (B1yr), 90{\%} (B3yr), and 57{\%} (Control) were dead 4 years later. Trees that had crown damage experienced the least mortality (22{\%}–60{\%}), followed by those that were snapped (55{\%}–94{\%}) and uprooted (88{\%}–94{\%}). Synthesis. We demonstrate the synergistic effects of three kinds of disturbances on a tropical forest. Our results show that the effects of windstorms are exacerbated by prior degradation by fire and fragmentation. We highlight that understorey fires can produce long-lasting effects on tropical forests not only by directly killing trees but also by increasing tree vulnerability to wind damage due to fire scars and a more open canopy.",
keywords = "Amazonia, biomass loss, fire scar, forest degradation, forest dynamics, tree mortality, windstorms",
author = "Silv{\'e}rio, {Divino V.} and Brando, {Paulo M.} and Bustamante, {Mercedes M.C.} and Putz, {Francis E.} and Marra, {Daniel Magnabosco} and Levick, {Shaun R.} and Trumbore, {Susan E.}",
year = "2019",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/1365-2745.13076",
language = "English",
volume = "107",
pages = "656--667",
journal = "Journal of Ecology",
issn = "0022-0477",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "2",

}

Silvério, DV, Brando, PM, Bustamante, MMC, Putz, FE, Marra, DM, Levick, SR & Trumbore, SE 2019, 'Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms: A recipe for tropical forest degradation', Journal of Ecology, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 656-667. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13076

Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms : A recipe for tropical forest degradation. / Silvério, Divino V.; Brando, Paulo M.; Bustamante, Mercedes M.C.; Putz, Francis E.; Marra, Daniel Magnabosco; Levick, Shaun R.; Trumbore, Susan E.

In: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 107, No. 2, 01.03.2019, p. 656-667.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms

T2 - A recipe for tropical forest degradation

AU - Silvério, Divino V.

AU - Brando, Paulo M.

AU - Bustamante, Mercedes M.C.

AU - Putz, Francis E.

AU - Marra, Daniel Magnabosco

AU - Levick, Shaun R.

AU - Trumbore, Susan E.

PY - 2019/3/1

Y1 - 2019/3/1

N2 - Widespread degradation of tropical forests is caused by a variety of disturbances that interact in ways that are not well understood. To explore potential synergies between edge effects, fire and windstorm damage as causes of Amazonian forest degradation, we quantified vegetation responses to a 30-min, high-intensity windstorm that in 2012, swept through a large-scale fire experiment that borders an agricultural field. Our pre- and postwindstorm measurements include tree mortality rates and modes of death, above-ground biomass, and airborne LiDAR-based estimates of tree heights and canopy disturbance (i.e., number and size of gaps). The experimental area in the southeastern Amazonia includes three 50-ha plots established in 2004 that were unburned (Control), burned annually (B1yr), or burned at 3-year intervals (B3yr). The windstorm caused greater damage to trees (>10 cm DBH) in the burned plots (B1yr: 13 ± 9% of 785 trees; B3yr: 17 ± 13% of 433) than in the Control plot (8 ± 4% of 2,300; ± CI). It substantially reduced vegetation height by 14% in B1yr, 20% in B3yr and 12% in the Control plots, while it reduced above-ground biomass by 18% of 77.7 Mg/ha (B1yr), 31% of 56.6 (B3yr), and 15% of 120 (Control). Tree damage was greatest near the agricultural field edge in all three plots, especially among large trees and in B3yr. Trunk snapping (70%) and uprooting (20%) were the most common modes of tree damage and mortality, with the height of trunk failure on the burned plots often corresponding with the height of historical fire scars. Of the windstorm-damaged trees, 80% (B1yr), 90% (B3yr), and 57% (Control) were dead 4 years later. Trees that had crown damage experienced the least mortality (22%–60%), followed by those that were snapped (55%–94%) and uprooted (88%–94%). Synthesis. We demonstrate the synergistic effects of three kinds of disturbances on a tropical forest. Our results show that the effects of windstorms are exacerbated by prior degradation by fire and fragmentation. We highlight that understorey fires can produce long-lasting effects on tropical forests not only by directly killing trees but also by increasing tree vulnerability to wind damage due to fire scars and a more open canopy.

AB - Widespread degradation of tropical forests is caused by a variety of disturbances that interact in ways that are not well understood. To explore potential synergies between edge effects, fire and windstorm damage as causes of Amazonian forest degradation, we quantified vegetation responses to a 30-min, high-intensity windstorm that in 2012, swept through a large-scale fire experiment that borders an agricultural field. Our pre- and postwindstorm measurements include tree mortality rates and modes of death, above-ground biomass, and airborne LiDAR-based estimates of tree heights and canopy disturbance (i.e., number and size of gaps). The experimental area in the southeastern Amazonia includes three 50-ha plots established in 2004 that were unburned (Control), burned annually (B1yr), or burned at 3-year intervals (B3yr). The windstorm caused greater damage to trees (>10 cm DBH) in the burned plots (B1yr: 13 ± 9% of 785 trees; B3yr: 17 ± 13% of 433) than in the Control plot (8 ± 4% of 2,300; ± CI). It substantially reduced vegetation height by 14% in B1yr, 20% in B3yr and 12% in the Control plots, while it reduced above-ground biomass by 18% of 77.7 Mg/ha (B1yr), 31% of 56.6 (B3yr), and 15% of 120 (Control). Tree damage was greatest near the agricultural field edge in all three plots, especially among large trees and in B3yr. Trunk snapping (70%) and uprooting (20%) were the most common modes of tree damage and mortality, with the height of trunk failure on the burned plots often corresponding with the height of historical fire scars. Of the windstorm-damaged trees, 80% (B1yr), 90% (B3yr), and 57% (Control) were dead 4 years later. Trees that had crown damage experienced the least mortality (22%–60%), followed by those that were snapped (55%–94%) and uprooted (88%–94%). Synthesis. We demonstrate the synergistic effects of three kinds of disturbances on a tropical forest. Our results show that the effects of windstorms are exacerbated by prior degradation by fire and fragmentation. We highlight that understorey fires can produce long-lasting effects on tropical forests not only by directly killing trees but also by increasing tree vulnerability to wind damage due to fire scars and a more open canopy.

KW - Amazonia

KW - biomass loss

KW - fire scar

KW - forest degradation

KW - forest dynamics

KW - tree mortality

KW - windstorms

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85055285321&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/1365-2745.13076

DO - 10.1111/1365-2745.13076

M3 - Article

VL - 107

SP - 656

EP - 667

JO - Journal of Ecology

JF - Journal of Ecology

SN - 0022-0477

IS - 2

ER -

Silvério DV, Brando PM, Bustamante MMC, Putz FE, Marra DM, Levick SR et al. Fire, fragmentation, and windstorms: A recipe for tropical forest degradation. Journal of Ecology. 2019 Mar 1;107(2):656-667. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13076