Changes in precipitation patterns and drought intensity are predicted to affect tropical forests community composition and ecosystem dynamics. Lianas are key components of most tropical forests, and they peak in abundance in seasonally dry tropical forests. Recent empirical evidence points to the increase in liana abundance and biomass as one of the major structural changes in tropical forests, derived from the predicted increase in drought frequency and intensity. Yet, it is not known how lianas affect different tropical forest tree species, or how lianas and trees differ in their response to water availability.
In this talk I will review new evidence for seasonal effects in liana and tree competition and on underlying traits explaining lianas and trees distribution patterns. I will also outline the need for a functional trait framework to assess tropical forest species drought resistance and vulnerability.
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