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Lightning is a major cause of large tree mortality in a lowland Neotropical forest

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dc.contributor.author Yanoviak, Stephen P. en
dc.contributor.author Gora, Evan M. en
dc.contributor.author Bitzer, Phillip M. en
dc.contributor.author Burchfield, Jeffrey C. en
dc.contributor.author Muller-Landau, Helene en
dc.contributor.author Detto, Matteo en
dc.contributor.author Paton, Steven en
dc.contributor.author Hubbell, Stephen P. en
dc.date.accessioned 2019-10-23T02:01:35Z
dc.date.available 2019-10-23T02:01:35Z
dc.date.issued 2019
dc.identifier.citation Yanoviak, Stephen P., Gora, Evan M., Bitzer, Phillip M., Burchfield, Jeffrey C., Muller-Landau, Helene, Detto, Matteo, Paton, Steven, and Hubbell, Stephen P. 2019. "Lightning is a major cause of large tree mortality in a lowland Neotropical forest." <em>The New Phytologist</em>. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16260">https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16260</a> en
dc.identifier.issn 1469-8137
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10088/99171
dc.description.abstract The mortality rates of large trees are critical to determining carbon stocks in tropical forests, but the mechanisms of tropical tree mortality remain poorly understood. Lightning strikes thousands of tropical trees every day, but is commonly assumed to be a minor agent of tree mortality in most tropical forests. We use the first systematic quantification of lightning-caused mortality to show that lightning is a major cause of death for the largest trees in an old-growth lowland forest in Panama. A novel lightning strike location system together with field surveys of strike sites revealed that, on average, each strike directly kills 3.5 trees (&gt;10 cm diameter)and damages 11.4 more. Given lightning frequencydata from the Earth Networks Total Lightning Networkand historical total tree mortality rates for this site, we conclude that lightning accounts for 40.5% of the mortality of large trees (&gt;60 cm diameter) in the short termand likely contributes to an additional 9.0% of large tree deaths over the long term. Any changes in cloud-to-ground lightning frequency due to climatic change will alter tree mortality rates; projected 25-50% increases in lightning frequency would increase large tree mortality rates in this forest by 9-18%. The results of this study indicate that lightning plays a criticaland previously underestimated role in tropical forest dynamics and carbon cycling. en
dc.relation.ispartof The New Phytologist en
dc.title Lightning is a major cause of large tree mortality in a lowland Neotropical forest en
dc.type Journal Article en
dc.identifier.srbnumber 152754
dc.identifier.doi 10.1111/nph.16260
rft.jtitle The New Phytologist
dc.description.SIUnit STRI en
dc.description.SIUnit Peer-reviewed en


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