Tree mode of death and mortality risk factors across Amazon forests

Adriane Esquivel-muelbert, Oliver L. Phillips, Roel J. W. Brienen, Sophie Fauset, Martin J. P. Sullivan, Timothy R. Baker, Kuo-jung Chao, Ted R. Feldpausch, Emanuel Gloor, Niro Higuchi, Jeanne Houwing-duistermaat, Jon Lloyd, Haiyan Liu, Yadvinder Malhi, Beatriz Marimon, Ben Hur Marimon Junior, Abel Monteagudo-mendoza, Lourens Poorter, Marcos Silveira, Emilio Vilanova TorreEsteban Alvarez Dávila, Jhon Del Aguila Pasquel, Everton Almeida, Patricia Alvarez Loayza, Ana Andrade, Luiz E. O. C. Aragão, Alejandro Araujo-murakami, Eric Arets, Luzmila Arroyo, Gerardo A. Aymard C., Michel Baisie, Christopher Baraloto, Plínio Barbosa Camargo, Jorcely Barroso, Lilian Blanc, Damien Bonal, Frans Bongers, René Boot, Foster Brown, Benoit Burban, José Luís Camargo, Wendeson Castro, Victor Chama Moscoso, Jerome Chave, James Comiskey, Fernando Cornejo Valverde, Antonio Lola Da Costa, Nallaret Davila Cardozo, Anthony Di Fiore, Aurélie Dourdain, Terry Erwin, Gerardo Flores Llampazo, Ima Célia Guimarães Vieira, Rafael Herrera, Eurídice Honorio Coronado, Isau Huamantupa-chuquimaco, Eliana Jimenez-rojas, Timothy Killeen, Susan Laurance, William Laurance, Aurora Levesley, Simon L. Lewis, Karina Liana Lisboa Melgaço Ladvocat, Gabriela Lopez-gonzalez, Thomas Lovejoy, Patrick Meir, Casimiro Mendoza, Paulo Morandi, David Neill, Adriano José Nogueira Lima, Percy Nuñez Vargas, Edmar Almeida De Oliveira, Nadir Pallqui Camacho, Guido Pardo, Julie Peacock, Marielos Peña-claros, Maria Cristina Peñuela-mora, Georgia Pickavance, John Pipoly, Nigel Pitman, Adriana Prieto, Thomas A. M. Pugh, Carlos Quesada, Hirma Ramirez-angulo, Simone Matias De Almeida Reis, Maxime Rejou-machain, Zorayda Restrepo Correa, Lily Rodriguez Bayona, Agustín Rudas, Rafael Salomão, Julio Serrano, Javier Silva Espejo, Natalino Silva, James Singh, Clement Stahl, Juliana Stropp, Varun Swamy, Joey Talbot, Hans Ter Steege, John Terborgh, Raquel Thomas, Marisol Toledo, Armando Torres-lezama, Luis Valenzuela Gamarra, Geertje Van Der Heijden, Peter Van Der Meer, Peter Van Der Hout, Rodolfo Vasquez Martinez, Simone Aparecida Vieira, Jeanneth Villalobos Cayo, Vincent Vos, Roderick Zagt, Pieter Zuidema, David Galbraith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The carbon sink capacity of tropical forests is substantially affected by tree mortality. However, the main drivers of tropical tree death remain largely unknown. Here we present a pan-Amazonian assessment of how and why trees die, analysing over 120,000 trees representing > 3800 species from 189 long-term RAINFOR forest plots. While tree mortality rates vary greatly Amazon-wide, on average trees are as likely to die standing as they are broken or uprooted—modes of death with different ecological consequences. Species-level growth rate is the single most important predictor of tree death in Amazonia, with faster-growing species being at higher risk. Within species, however, the slowest-growing trees are at greatest risk while the effect of tree size varies across the basin. In the driest Amazonian region species-level bioclimatic distributional patterns also predict the risk of death, suggesting that these forests are experiencing climatic conditions beyond their adaptative limits. These results provide not only a holistic pan-Amazonian picture of tree death but large-scale evidence for the overarching importance of the growth–survival trade-off in driving tropical tree mortality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5515
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2020


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