Large seasonal swings in leaf area of Amazon rainforests

National Academy of Sciences
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2007, 104 (12), pp. 4820 - 4823
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Despite early speculation to the contrary, all tropical forests studied to date display seasonal variations in the presence of new leaves, ?owers, and fruits. Past studies were focused on the timing of phenological events and their cues but not on the accompanying changes in leaf area that regulate vegetationatmosphere exchanges of energy, momentum, and mass. Here we report, from analysis of 5 years of recent satellite data, seasonal swings in green leaf area of 25% in a majority of the Amazon rainforests. This seasonal cycle is timed to the seasonality of solar radiation in a manner that is suggestive of anticipatory and opportunistic patterns of net leaf ?ushing during the early to mid part of the light-rich dry season and net leaf abscission during the cloudy wet season. These seasonal swings in leaf area may be critical to initiation of the transition from dry to wet season, seasonal carbon balance between photosynthetic gains and respiratory losses, and litterfall nutrient cycling in moist tropical forests
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