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Global dominance of lianas over trees is driven by forest disturbance, climate and topography

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Ngute, ASK; Schoeman, DS; Pfeifer, M; van der Heijden, GMF; Phillips, OL; van Breugel, M; Campbell, MJ; Chandler, CJ; Enquist, BJ; Gallagher, RV; Gehring, C; Hall, JS; Laurance, S; Laurance, WF; Letcher, SG; Liu, WY; Sullivan, MJP; Wright, SJ; Yuan, CM; Marshall, AR

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2024

GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY

30

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Growing evidence suggests that liana competition with trees is threatening the global carbon sink by slowing the recovery of forests following disturbance. A recent theory based on local and regional evidence further proposes that the competitive success of lianas over trees is driven by interactions between forest disturbance and climate. We present the first global assessment of liana-tree relative performance in response to forest disturbance and climate drivers. Using an unprecedented dataset, we analysed 651 vegetation samples representing 26,538 lianas and 82,802 trees from 556 unique locations worldwide, derived from 83 publications. Results show that lianas perform better relative to trees (increasing liana-to-tree ratio) when forests are disturbed, under warmer temperatures and lower precipitation and towards the tropical lowlands. We also found that lianas can be a critical factor hindering forest recovery in disturbed forests experiencing liana-favourable climates, as chronosequence data show that high competitive success of lianas over trees can persist for decades following disturbances, especially when the annual mean temperature exceeds 27.8 degrees C, precipitation is less than 1614 mm and climatic water deficit is more than 829 mm. These findings reveal that degraded tropical forests with environmental conditions favouring lianas are disproportionately more vulnerable to liana dominance and thus can potentially stall succession, with important implications for the global carbon sink, and hence should be the highest priority to consider for restoration management. Des preuves de plus en plus nombreuses suggerent que la competition entre lianes et les arbres menace le puits de carbone mondial en ralentissant la recuperation des forets apres une perturbation. Une theorie recente, fondee sur des observations locales et regionales, propose en outre que le succes competitif des lianes sur les arbres est du aux interactions entre la perturbation forestiere et le climat. Nous presentons la premiere evaluation mondiale de la performance relative des lianes par rapport aux arbres en reponse aux perturbations forestieres et aux facteurs climatiques. En utilisant un ensemble de donnees sans precedent, nous avons analyse 651 echantillons de vegetation representant 26,538 lianes et 82,802 arbres, issus de 556 emplacements uniques dans le monde entier, tires de 83 publications. Les resultats montrent que les lianes ont de meilleure performances par rapport aux arbres (augmentation du ratio liane-arbre) lorsque les forets sont perturbees, sous des zones chaudes aves precipitations faibles, et vers les basses altitudes tropicales. Nous avons egalement constate que les lianes peuvent etre un facteur critique entravant la recuperation des forets dans les forets perturbees connaissant des climats favorables aux lianes, car les donnees de chronosequence montrent que le succes competitif eleve des lianes sur les arbres peut persister pendant des decennies apres les perturbations, surtout lorsque la temperature annuelle moyenne depasse 27.8 degrees C, que les precipitations sont inferieures a 1614 mm et que le deficit hydrique climatique est superieur a 829 mm. Ces decouvertes revelent que les forets tropicales degradees avec des conditions environnementales favorables aux lianes sont disproportionnellement plus vulnerables a la dominance des lianes, et peuvent ainsi potentiellement entraver la succession, avec d'importantes implications pour le puits de carbone mondial et devraient donc etre la plus haute priorite a considerer pour la gestion de la restauration.

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