The role of functional diversity in the resilience of African tropical forests to climate stresses

Project: Research

Project Details


Intact tropical forests are an enormous carbon sink, corresponding to ca. 10% of anthropogenic carbon emissions over the last 30 years. African tropical forests have accounted for nearly half of this sink.

Yet our ability to project the future of this carbon sink is undermined by a lack of understanding of how the functional diversity of these forests mediates their resilience to climate stresses, particularly water stress. Process-based modelling approaches, combined with intensive field observations, offer a route to explore the processes that govern functional diversity and to understand how forests are likely to respond to novel climate conditions. This project ties emerging technical capability to simulate tree functional diversity in a large-scale vegetation model with intensive observations in tropical moist and montane forests to elucidate the key processes governing successful tree functional strategies and their coexistence within these forests. It pays particular attention to how water stress tolerance interacts with the effects of disturbance, such as might be caused by human actions. It aims to provide a greatly enhanced capacity to simulate the future trajectory of tropical forests to changing climate and propagate this information forward into improved assessments of their future carbon sink strength.
Effective start/end date2022/01/012025/12/31

Collaborative partners


  • Swedish Research Council