Effect of drought on productivity in a Costa Rican tropical dry forest

S M Castro, G A Sanchez-Azofeifa, H Sato
2018 Environmental Research Letters  
Climate models predict that precipitation patterns in tropical dry forests (TDFs) will change, with an overall reduction in rainfall amount and intensification of dry intervals, leading to greater susceptibility to drought. In this paper, we explore the effect of drought on phenology and carbon dynamics of a secondary TDF located in the Santa Rosa National Park (SRNP), Costa Rica. Through the use of optical sensors and an eddy covariance flux tower, seasonal phenology and carbon fluxes were
more » ... bon fluxes were monitored over a four-year period (2013-2016). Over this time frame, annual precipitation varied considerably. Total precipitation amounts for the 2013-2016 seasons equaled 1591.8 mm (+14.4 mm SD), 1112.9 mm (+9.9 mm SD), 600.8 mm (+7.6 mm SD), and 1762.2 mm (+13.9 mm SD), respectively. The 2014 and 2015 (ENSO) seasonal precipitation amounts represent a 30% and 63% reduction in precipitation, respectively, and were designated as drought seasons. Phenology was affected by precipitation patterns and availability. The onset of green-up was closely associated with pre-seasonal rains. Drought events lead to seasonal NDVI minimums and changes in phenologic cycle length. Carbon fluxes, assimilation, and photosynthetic light use efficiency were negatively affected by drought. Seasonal minimums in photosynthetic rates and light use efficiency were observed during drought events, and gross primary productivity was reduced by 13% and 42% during drought seasons 2014 and 2015, respectively. However, all four growth seasons were net carbon sinks. Results from this study contribute towards a deeper understanding of the impact of drought on TDF phenology and carbon dynamics.
doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aaacbc fatcat:2dcw5nq7tnbxbpaoqvzshodldm