Typhoon Disturbance Mediates Elevational Patterns of Forest Structure, but not Species Diversity, in Humid Monsoon Asia

Chung How Chi, Ryan W. McEwan, Chung Te Chang, Chengyang Zheng, Zhijie Yang, Jyh Min Chiang, Teng-Chiu Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding factors controlling ecosystem structure and function is key to predicting the effects of climate change on vegetation distribution and carbon sequestration. Cyclones play a large role in structuring ecosystems and cyclone intensity is expected to increase on a warming planet. The effects of cyclones on broad-scale ecosystem patterns could be substantial but are poorly understood. This study assessed forest structure and biodiversity patterns across an elevation gradient (300–3000 m) in mountainous, humid forests of Taiwan, an island experiencing an average of 3–6 typhoons (regional name of cyclones) annually, and contrasted those patterns with a gradient within the Wuyi Mountains of China (500–2100 m), where the climate is similar to Taiwan but typhoon occurrence is rare and effects are generally minimal. In both Taiwan and the Wuyi Mountains, tree species richness and diversity decreased with increasing elevation. Tree size and stature decrease from low to high elevations in the typhoon-protected Wuyi Mountains. In contrast, the biomass and stature of forests in Taiwan increased from low to high elevations. The relationship between forest stature and climate was also contrasting in relation to typhoon disturbance in that we found decreasing tree height and basal area with increasing temperature in Taiwan, but not in the Wuyi Mountains. The more than twofold increase in tree height and biomass with increasing elevations reported here for subtropical humid forests of Taiwan is a unique pattern that highlights the potential role of cyclones in driving elevational patterns of forest structure. Climate change-induced alterations in tropical cyclone regimes may affect elevational patterns of forest structure and carbon sequestration in regions experiencing frequent cyclones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1423
Number of pages14
JournalEcosystems
Volume18
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1

Fingerprint

Biodiversity
typhoon
species diversity
monsoon
cyclone
Taiwan
disturbance
mountains
mountain
carbon sequestration
Climate change
Ecosystems
climate change
Biomass
typhoons
Carbon
climate
ecosystem structure
ecosystems
hurricanes

Keywords

  • Monsoon Asia
  • biodiversity
  • biomass
  • climate
  • cyclone
  • elevational pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology

Cite this

Typhoon Disturbance Mediates Elevational Patterns of Forest Structure, but not Species Diversity, in Humid Monsoon Asia. / Chi, Chung How; McEwan, Ryan W.; Chang, Chung Te; Zheng, Chengyang; Yang, Zhijie; Chiang, Jyh Min; Lin, Teng-Chiu.

In: Ecosystems, Vol. 18, No. 8, 01.12.2015, p. 1410-1423.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chi, Chung How ; McEwan, Ryan W. ; Chang, Chung Te ; Zheng, Chengyang ; Yang, Zhijie ; Chiang, Jyh Min ; Lin, Teng-Chiu. / Typhoon Disturbance Mediates Elevational Patterns of Forest Structure, but not Species Diversity, in Humid Monsoon Asia. In: Ecosystems. 2015 ; Vol. 18, No. 8. pp. 1410-1423.
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