|Cross-scale assessments of the impacts and resilience of subtropical montane cloud forests to chronic seasonal droughts and episodic typhoons
|Wang, Hsueh Ching
|carbon cycle | disturbance | El Niño–Southern Oscillation | Enhanced Vegetation Index | extreme weather | litterfall | phenology | recovery | southern oscillation index | wind speed
|Global Change Biology
Montane cloud forests (MCFs) are ecosystems frequently immersed in fog and are vital for the terrestrial hydrological cycle and biodiversity hotspots. However, the potential impacts of climate change, particularly intensified droughts and typhoons, on the persistence of ecosystems remain unclear. Our study conducted cross-scale assessments using 6-year (2016–2021) ground litterfall and 21-year (2001–2021) satellite greenness data (the Enhanced Vegetation Index [EVI] and the EVI anomaly change [ΔEVI%]), gross primary productivity anomaly change (ΔGPP%), and meteorological variables (the standardized precipitation index [SPI] and wind speed). We found a positive correlation between summer EVI and ΔGPP% with the SPI-3 (3-month time scale), while winter litterfall showed a negative correlation. Maximum typhoon daily wind speed was negatively correlated with summer and the monthly ΔEVI% and ΔGPP%. These findings suggest vegetation damage and productivity loss were related to drought and typhoon intensities. Furthermore, our analysis highlighted that chronic seasonal droughts had more pronounced impacts on MCFs than severe typhoons, implying that high precipitation and frequent fog immersion do not necessarily mitigate the ramifications of water deficit on MCFs but might render MCFs more sensitive and vulnerable to drought. A significant negative correlation between the summer and winter ΔEVI% and ΔGPP% of the same year, suggesting disturbance severity during summer may facilitate vegetation regrowth and carbon accumulation in the subsequent winter. This finding may be attributed to the ecological resilience of MCFs, which enables them to recover from the previous summer. In the long-term, our results indicated an increase in vegetation resilience over two decades in MCFs, likely driven by rising temperatures and elevated carbon dioxide levels. However, the enhancement of resilience might be overshadowed by the potential intensified droughts and typhoons in the future, potentially causing severe damage and insufficient recovery times for MCFs, thus raising concerns about uncertainties regarding their sustained resilience.
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