dead tree

Frequent Tree Damage & Death Assessment


Despite its importance in the global carbon cycling (Pan et al., 2011; Requena Suarez et al., 2019), our ability to predict how tropical forests will respond to the ongoing global environmental changes remains poorly understood (Friedlingstein et al., 2006; Cavaleri et al., 2015; Smith et al., 2016). This is partially attributed to the poor representation of tree mortality in vegetation demographic models (Longo et al., 2019; Pugh et al., 2020). In order to expand the data available for developing and testing mechanistic models of tree mortality, we designed a protocol to perform frequent tree damage and death assessments across the ForestGEO network. While we focus on large forest plots, the protocol herein aims to assess factors at the stem-level and, thus, can be used as a guide to asses tree vigor and death in smaller forest plots or projects with different tree sampling designs.

The sampling design adopted in ForestGEO plots, the description and rationale of the variables collected in each tree, and other relevant aspects are currently under peer review. However, a draft version of the fieldwork protocol is available from Gabriel Arellano ( or Daniel Zuleta (

This work is part of the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics, funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research.



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