Panama Study: Tallest Trees Died Mostly from Lightning

General discussions of forests and trees that do not focus on a specific species or specific location.

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Panama Study: Tallest Trees Died Mostly from Lightning

Post by Shorea » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:25 am ... -lightning

On Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal, scientists map lightning strikes and find that they kill mainly the loftiest trees, likely disturbing the forest ecology. The researchers also found that lightning was responsible for most deaths of the tallest tropical trees, some believed to be up to 500 years old.

I came across an interesting article today, but I'm not entirely sure if lightning is really the main culprit, at least here in Malaysia.

For example, there are two patches of old secondary regenerating forest about 1000 ha each, and about 20 km apart, near my house that I've visited "countless" times over the years, and it seems to me, that these forests are degenerating slowly (rather than regenerating) due to heightened tree mortality. I see the same thing on another patch of forest at Pasoh, 150km away, but this forest is primary. In all three cases, these are isolated forest patches surrounded by either built-up land, or low-stature oil palm plantations.

Could isolated tropical forest patches attract more lightning strikes? Even Barro Colorado is an island I hear - thus constituting an isolated patch.

In an extensive area of unbroken primary tropical forest, such as at Taman Negara national park, the same malady can be seen, although perhaps to a lesser degree, as I recall from my previous visits, including the latest one with Kouta early this year.

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