Soil warming effects on tropical forests with highly weathered soils

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


The tropics are a region encircling the equator, delineated to the north by the Tropic of Cancer (23°26'14.0″N) and to the south by the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26'14.0″S). While we often think of the tropics as consistently warm and wet throughout the year, in reality, the tropics maintain a myriad of climates. Of the 116 Holdridge life zones (a global bioclimatic classification scheme), the tropics contain more life zones than the sum of all the planet's other geographic regions combined (. Holdridge, 1967). In addition to high climatic diversity, the tropics support a wide range of parent materials, landforms, geomorphic characteristics, and soil ages, and maintain all 12 soil types of the USDA soil taxonomy system (. Palm et al., 2007; Porder et al., 2007; Quesada et al., 2010; Richter and Babbar, 1991; Sanchez, 1977; Soil Survey Staff, 2006; Townsend et al., 2008). Accordingly, there is no single representative tropical ecosystem. Given the diversity of tropical biomes, this chapter will focus specifically on tropical forested ecosystems and their responses to warming because of their global importance, potential sensitivity to change, and the fact that an improved understanding of how these ecosystems may respond to warmer climate conditions is of significant importance to ecology and society. Furthermore, while generally considering all tropical forest types, emphasis in this chapter is on the humid tropics for which we have most data.

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Ecosystem Consequences of Soil Warming: Microbes, Vegetation, Fauna and Soil Biogeochemistry