Dry Tropical Forests May Be More at Risk Than Wet Rainforests, Study Says

A tropical forest in Ivindo National Park, Gabon on the west coast of Africa. Photograph: Amaury Hauchard/AFP/Getty Images

Dry tropical forests are more vulnerable to the impacts of global heating than had been thought, according to new research, with wildlife and plants at severe risk of harm from human impacts.

Some tropical forests are very wet, but others thrive in a drier climate and scientists had thought these drier forests would be better adapted to drought, and therefore more able to cope with the effects of the climate crisis.

But a new study suggests the opposite may be true, and forests with an already drier climate show greater loss of biodiversity, and a reduced ability to support a wide variety of wildlife and plant species, when subjected to warmer temperatures. Wetter forests, with year-round rainfall, show less change in biodiversity.

The researchers examined both wet and dry tropical forests in West Africa. Dry forests appear to be already on the verge of a tipping point, whereby further years of hot and dry conditions could cause a rapid transformation. Read more…

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