Seasonal controls on the exchange of carbon and water in an Amazonian rain forest

Lucy R. Hutyra, J. William Munger, Scott R. Saleska, Elaine Gottlieb, Bruce C. Daube, Allison L. Dunn, Daniel F. Amaral, Plinio B. de Camargo, Steven C. Wofsy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


The long-term resilience of Amazonian forests, to climate changes and the fate of their large stores of organic carbon depend on the ecosystem response to climate and weather. This study presents 4 years of eddy covariance data for CO2 and water fluxes in an evergreen, old-growth tropical rain forest examining the forest's response to seasonal variations and to short-term weather anomalies. Photosynthetic efficiency declined late in the wet season, before appreciable leaf litter fall, and increased after new leaf production midway through the dry season. Rates of evapotranspiration were inelastic and did not depend on dry season precipitation. However, ecosystem respiration was inhibited by moisture, limitations on heterotrophic respiration during the dry season. The annual carbon balance for this ecosystem was very close to neutral, with mean net loss of 890 ± 220 kg C ha-1 yr-1, and a range of -221 ± 453 (C uptake) to +2677 ± 488 (C loss) kg C ha-1 yr-1 over 4 years. The trend from large net carbon release in 2002 towards net carbon uptake in 2005 implies recovery from prior disturbance. The annual carbon balance was sensitive to weather anomalies, particularly the timing of the dry-to-wet season transition, reflecting modulation of light inputs and respiration processes. Canopy carbon uptake rates were largely controlled by phenology and light with virtually no indication of seasonal water limitation during the 5-month dry season, indicating ample supplies of plant-available-water and ecosystem adaptation for maximum light utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberG03008
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 28 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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