(ORDO NEWS) — A tropical forest covered with vines seems to us an absolutely peaceful, harmonious community, but in fact there is a fierce war between plants for the right to reach the sunlight.
And, according to scientists, the winner in this war will have to not only ensure their existence, but also shift the climate balance in a world experiencing global warming.
Lianas are often found in tropical forests on all continents. Wrapping around tree trunks, they compete with their “supports” for light, water and nutrients. Such “habitants” to the tree are not at all useful: they can even kill it.
Forests absorb carbon dioxide, so the abundance of vines can “benefit” global warming.
This problem is especially acute in Southeast Asia, where the trees are relatively larger and with higher aboveground biomass than in the well-studied forests of South America.
More crown – more carbon dioxide is captured.
Therefore, in comparison with South American Asian forests should make a greater contribution to the normalization of the global carbon cycle and the mitigation of climate change.
After studying the distribution of vines on 2,428 trees growing in 50 hectares of tropical forest in Malaysia, an international team of scientists found that, unlike the forests of the New World.
In Asia, vines prefer to twine around smaller (up to 15 meters) young trees growing near gaps in forest canopy.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that mainly dipterocarpus grow in the studied area . These trees shed their lower branches when mature. Thanks to this, the tree gets rid of old vines, and new ones cannot climb up the smooth trunk.
However, if mature trees can still escape from vines, young trees do not have such an opportunity. Smothered by “habitants”, they rarely reach typical sizes for their species.
This, in turn, means that such a tree will capture less carbon dioxide and contribute less to the carbon cycle, exacerbating the effects of global warming.
Going forward, the scientists plan to test whether their findings extend to other Southeast Asian rainforests.
They also plan to determine how human activities such as clearing trees to create gaps in the forest canopy can affect forest health and its role in Earth’s climate balance.
Finally, it is worth adding that the conclusions of the new scientific work may somewhat contradict the real situation.
It is known that in the Amazon, the jungle often produces more carbon dioxide than it absorbs. It is quite possible that in Southeast Asia the role of forests in climate stabilization is small or even negative.
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