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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Forest structure and solar-induced fluorescence across intact and degraded forests in the Amazon

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Tropical forest degradation (e.g., anthropogenic disturbances such as selective logging and fires) alters forest structure and function and influences the forest's carbon sink. In this study, we explored structure-function relationships across a variety of degradation levels in the southern Brazilian Amazon by 1) investigating how forest structural properties vary as a function of degradation history using airborne lidar data; 2) assessing the effects of degradation on solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) seasonality using TROPOMI data; and 3) quantifying the contribution of structural variables to SIF using multiple regression models with stepwise selection of lidar metrics. Forest degradation history was obtained through Landsat time-series classification. We found that fire, logging, and time since disturbance were major determinants of forest structure, and that forests affected by fires experienced larger variability in leaf area index (LAI), canopy height and vertical structure relative to logged and intact forests. Moreover, only recently burned forests showed significantly depressed SIF during the dry season compared to intact forests. Canopy height and the vertical distribution of foliage were the best predictors of SIF. Unexpectedly, we found that wet-season SIF was higher in active regenerating forests (~ 4 years after fires or logging) compared with intact forests, despite lower LAI. Our findings help to elucidate the mechanisms of carbon accumulation in anthropogenically disturbed tropical forests and indicate that they can capture large amounts of carbon while recovering.

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This item is under embargo until June 1, 2024.