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Amazonian Tree Mortality during the 1997 El Niño Drought

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In 1997, the Amazon Basin experienced an exceptionally severe El Niño drought. We assessed effects of this rare event on mortality rates of trees in intact rain forest based on data from permanent plots. Long-term (5- to 13-year) mortality rates averaged only 1.12% per year prior to the drought. During the drought year, annual mortality jumped to 1.91% but abruptly fell back to 1.23% in the year following El Niño. Trees dying during the drought did not differ significantly in size or species composition from those that died previously, and there was no detectable effect of soil texture on mortality rates. These results suggest that intact Amazonian rainforests are relatively resistant to severe El Niño events.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, U.S.A., 2: Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA), C.P 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil 3: Laboratório de Botânica, Universidade Paulista, Av. Paulista 900, São Paulo, SP 01310–100, Brazil 4: Counselor to the Secretary for Biodiversity and Conservation, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560, U.S.A.

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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