Canopy tree mortality depends on the proportion of crown exposed to sunlight, but this effect varies with species' wood density
Understanding what drives changes in tree mortality as well as the covariates influencing trees' response is a research priority to predict forest responses to global change. Here, we combined drone photogrammetry and ground-based data to assess the influence of crown exposure to light (relative to total crown area), growth deviations (relative to conspecifics), tree size, and species' wood density (as a surrogate for light-demanding and shade-tolerant life-history strategies) on the mortality of 984 canopy trees in an Amazon terra firme forest. Trees with lower wood density were less prone to die when their proportion of crown was more exposed to sunlight, but this relationship with relative crown exposure weakened and slightly reversed as wood density increased. Trees growing less than their species average had higher mortality, especially when the species' wood density decreased. The role of wood density in determining the survival of canopy trees under varying light conditions indicates differential responses of light-demanding versus shade-tolerant species. Our results highlight the importance of accounting for life-history strategies, via plant functional types, in vegetation dynamic models aiming to predict forest demography under a rapidly changing climate.