Effects of Frequent Drought on Seedling Communities

The Malua research assistants testing our shelters.

The Malua research assistants testing our shelters.

Drought in Borneo is commonly associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation events (ENSO), and these events are predicted to increase in both severity and frequency in the future. Therefore, although annual rainfall is expected to increase in Southeast Asia, variability in rainfall (more days with no rain and more days with extreme rain) and drought are expected to occur more regularly. Four years ago I planted seedling communities into gap and understory plots around the Malua Forest Field Station and applied yearly drought using clear plastic sheeting rain shelters. These plots have been monitored for growth and mortality 3-4 times a year in order to examine the role drought has on maintaining seedling diversity in these forests.

Excluding rain in a tropical forest.

Excluding rain in a tropical forest.