Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
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Pattern and process in Amazon tree turnover, 1976–2001

O. L. Phillips

O. L. Phillips

Earth and Biosphere Institute, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

[email protected]

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T. R. Baker

T. R. Baker

Earth and Biosphere Institute, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

Max–Planck–Institut für Biogeochemie, Postfach 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany

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L. Arroyo

L. Arroyo

Museo Noel Kempff Mercado, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA

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N. Higuchi

N. Higuchi

Instituto National de Pesquisas Amazônicas, Alameda Cosme Ferreira 1756–Aleixo, CEP 69083–000, Manaus, Brazil

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T. J. Killeen

T. J. Killeen

Museo Noel Kempff Mercado, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International, Washington, DC 20036, USA

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W. F. Laurance

W. F. Laurance

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama

Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Program, Smithsonian Institution/INPA CP 478, Manaus, AM 69022-970, Brazil

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S. L. Lewis

S. L. Lewis

Earth and Biosphere Institute, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK

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J. Lloyd

J. Lloyd

Max–Planck–Institut für Biogeochemie, Postfach 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany

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Y. Malhi

Y. Malhi

School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK

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A. Monteagudo

A. Monteagudo

Herbario Vargas, Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco, Cusco, Peru

Proyecto Flora del Perü, Jardin Botanico de Missouri, Oxapampa, Peru

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D. A. Neill

D. A. Neill

Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA

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P. Núñez Vargas

P. Núñez Vargas

Herbario Vargas, Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco, Cusco, Peru

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J. N. M. Silva

J. N. M. Silva

CIFOR, Tapajos, Para, Brazil

EMBRAPA Amazonia Oriental, Belem, Para, Brazil

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J. Terborgh

J. Terborgh

Duke University School of the Environment, Center for Tropical Conservation, 3705-C Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27705, USA

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R. Vásquez Martínez

R. Vásquez Martínez

Proyecto Flora del Perü, Jardin Botanico de Missouri, Oxapampa, Peru

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M. Alexiades

M. Alexiades

New York Botanical Garden, Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, NY 10458, USA

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S. Almeida

S. Almeida

Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Avenida Magalhaes Barata 376, Belem, Para 66040, Brazil

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S. Brown

S. Brown

Winrock International, 1621 North Kent Street, Suite 1200, Arlington, VA 22209, USA

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J. Chave

J. Chave

Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS/UPS Toulouse, Bâtiment IVR3, Campus Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse cedex 4, France

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J. A. Comiskey

J. A. Comiskey

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA

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C. I. Czimczik

C. I. Czimczik

Max–Planck–Institut für Biogeochemie, Postfach 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany

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A. Di Fiore

A. Di Fiore

Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA

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T. Erwin

T. Erwin

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA

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C. Kuebler

C. Kuebler

Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International, Washington, DC 20036, USA

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S. G. Laurance

S. G. Laurance

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama

Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Program, Smithsonian Institution/INPA CP 478, Manaus, AM 69022-970, Brazil

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H. E. M. Nascimento

H. E. M. Nascimento

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama

Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Program, Smithsonian Institution/INPA CP 478, Manaus, AM 69022-970, Brazil

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J. Olivier

J. Olivier

Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS/UPS Toulouse, Bâtiment IVR3, Campus Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse cedex 4, France

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W. Palacios

W. Palacios

Fundacion Jatun Sacha, Quito, Ecuador, Ecuador-002

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S. Patiño

S. Patiño

Max–Planck–Institut für Biogeochemie, Postfach 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany

Alexander von Humboldt Biological Research Institute, Bogotá, Colombia

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N. C. A. Pitman

N. C. A. Pitman

New York Botanical Garden, Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, NY 10458, USA

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C. A. Quesada

C. A. Quesada

Max–Planck–Institut für Biogeochemie, Postfach 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany

Departamento de Ecología, Universidade de Brasilia, CEP 70919–970, Brazil

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A. Torres Lezama

A. Torres Lezama

INDEFOR, Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida 5101, Venezuela

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B. Vinceti

B. Vinceti

International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Via dei Tre Denari 472/a, 00057 Maccarese (Fiumicino), Rome, Italy

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    Previous work has shown that tree turnover, tree biomass and large liana densities have increased in mature tropical forest plots in the late twentieth century. These results point to a concerted shift in forest ecological processes that may already be having significant impacts on terrestrial carbon stocks, fluxes and biodiversity. However, the findings have proved controversial, partly because a rather limited number of permanent plots have been monitored for rather short periods. The aim of this paper is to characterize regional–scale patterns of ‘tree turnover’ (the rate with which trees die and recruit into a population) by using improved datasets now available for Amazonia that span the past 25 years. Specifically, we assess whether concerted changes in turnover are occurring, and if so whether they are general throughout the Amazon or restricted to one region or environmental zone. In addition, we ask whether they are driven by changes in recruitment, mortality or both. We find that: (i) trees 10 cm or more in diameter recruit and die twice as fast on the richer soils of southern and western Amazonia than on the poorer soils of eastern and central Amazonia; (ii) turnover rates have increased throughout Amazonia over the past two decades; (iii) mortality and recruitment rates have both increased significantly in every region and environmental zone, with the exception of mortality in eastern Amazonia; (iv) recruitment rates have consistently exceeded mortality rates; (v) absolute increases in recruitment and mortality rates are greatest in western Amazonian sites; and (vi) mortality appears to be lagging recruitment at regional scales. These spatial patterns and temporal trends are not caused by obvious artefacts in the data or the analyses. The trends cannot be directly driven by a mortality driver (such as increased drought or fragmentation–related death) because the biomass in these forests has simultaneously increased. Our findings therefore indicate that long–acting and widespread environmental changes are stimulating the growth and productivity of Amazon forests.