Resistance of a lowland rain forest to increasing drought intensity in Sabah, Borneo

Newbery, David McClintock; Lingenfelder, Marcus (2004). Resistance of a lowland rain forest to increasing drought intensity in Sabah, Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 20(6), pp. 613-624. Cambridge University Press 10.1017/S0266467404001750

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Occasional strong droughts are an important feature of the climatic environment of tropical rain forest in much of Borneo. This paper compares the response of a lowland dipterocarp forest at Danum, Sabah, in a period of low (LDI) and a period of high (HDI) drought intensity (1986-96, 9.98 y;1996-99, 2.62 y). Mean annual drought intensity was two-fold higher in the HDI than LDI period (1997 v. 976 mm), and each period had one moderately strong main drought (viz. 1992, 1998). Mortality of `all' trees greater than or equal to 10 cm gbh (girth at breast height) and stem growth rates of `small' trees 10less than or equal to50 cm gbh were measured in sixteen 0.16-ha subplots (half on ridge, half on lower slope sites) within two 4-ha plots. These 10-50-cm trees were composed largely of true understorey species. A new procedure was developed to correct for the effect of differences in length of census interval when comparing tree mortality rates. Mortality rates of small trees declined slightly but not significantly between the LDI and HDI periods (1.53 to 1.48% y(-1)): mortality of all trees showed a similar pattern. Relative growth rates declined significantly by 23% from LDI to HDI periods (11.1 to 8.6 mm m(-1) y(-1)): for absolute growth rates the decrease was 28% (2.45 to 1.77 mm y(-1)). Neither mortality nor growth rates were significantly influenced by topography. For small trees, across subplots, absolute growth rate was positively correlated in the LDI period, but negatively correlated in the HDI period, with mortality rate. There was no consistent pattern in the responses among the 19 most abundant species (n greater than or equal to 50 trees) which included a proposed drought-tolerant guild. In terms of tree survival, the forest at Danum was resistant to increasing drought intensity, but showed decreased stem growth attributable to increasing water stress.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Vegetation Ecology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Newbery, David McClintock and Lingenfelder, Marcus


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




Cambridge University Press




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

15 Aug 2014 11:59

Last Modified:

18 May 2016 11:19

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Borneo, drought, forest dynamics, interval correction, mortality, tree growth, understorey




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