Dry periods are becoming more common in the Amazon and it is the end of many large trees that are sensitive to drought. But it does not have to mean disaster for the rainforest in general. Small trees cope with the drought much better and then get the chance to grow, research from the University of Exeter shows.
This may sound completely natural, but it has not been clear that small trees actually survive drought better than large trees in the rainforest or that they can then quickly benefit from the increased sunlight. The researchers behind the study also believe that small trees that have survived severe drought are less susceptible to drought even when they have grown large.
The discovery gives hope that rainforests can recover well from temporary drought, even if it may look hopeless at first glance.
"Conditions in the Amazon are changing due to climate change and the trees have to adapt to survive. Our research shows that small trees have a better ability than the larger trees to change their physiology when the environment changes, ”says David Bartholmew at the University of Exeter and one of the researchers behind the study.