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Indian Institute of Science (2017)

Eco-Hydrology of a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest : Tree Growth, Belowground Water Dynamics and Drought-Vulnerability

Tarak, Rutuja Chitra

Titre : Eco-Hydrology of a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest : Tree Growth, Belowground Water Dynamics and Drought-Vulnerability

Auteur : Tarak, Rutuja Chitra

Etablissement de soutenance : Indian Institute of Science

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2017

Résumé partiel
Tropical forests are storehouses of more thanhalf of the world‘s biodiversity and play a key role in global carbon, water and energy cycles. However, as a consequence of rapid anthropogenic climate change, biodiversity and climate functions of these forests are under a threat. Climate is changing not only in mean state but its variability is increasing, with extreme events such as droughts, heat waves and storms also rising. Water is fundamental to plants‘ existence, and in the tropics, is a key determinant of plant species‘richness, composition, growth and survival. There is thus an increasing interest in understanding how changing rainfall may cause functional changes in forests or change their species composition. Therefore, the overarching goal of thisdissertation was to understand the impact of water variability on tropical forest tree growth and vulnerability to drought.Forest tree growth along spatial and temporal rainfall gradientsObservational studies that measure whole forest tree growth along spatial or temporal gradients of rainfall are the most common way of formulating forest growth response curves to water availability, when manipulative experiments are cost-prohibitive or impractical (fire or large mammal disturbance). In the tropics, since very few species show anatomically distinct tree rings, estimating tree growth from trunk diameter is the standard practice to obtain growth patterns across species. However, this method—of equating woody growth to diameter change—is susceptible to bias from water-induced stem flexing. In the absence of bias correction, temporal variability in growth is likely to be overestimated and incorrectly attributed to fluctuations in resource availability, especially in forests with high seasonal and inter-annual variability in water. This problem has been largely ignored in the absence of any corrective measure and due to under-appreciation of the magnitude of error. While diameter re-censuses in permanent sampling plots (PSPs) have been most commonly done at 3-5 year scale (using a graduate tape), increasingly they are done at seasonal and annual scales (using band dendrometers) to closely match variation in rainfall, the scales at which hydrostatic bias may be greater in magnitude relative to woody growth. Besides, along a spatial rainfall gradient, inter-annual variability in water may vary, causing systematic differences in the hydrostatic bias for forests along the gradient

Présentation (etd@IISc)

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