Understanding how tree growth rates change with tree size is an essential ecological question. This relationship between growth-rate and size-scaling may result from common properties of vascular networks. While network theory may explain global trends in growth rate size scaling it has been less successful locally; at local scales network theory leaves much variability between species and individuals unexplained. This study aims to extend network theory to local scales by accounting for two additional factors: (i) tree traits (for example, photosynthetic properties and branching patterns) and (ii) light limitation. In the TapajÃ³s National Forest (PA, Brazil), this study will sample many individuals of ten species across a size range and track individual growth, traits, and light environments. These data will allow the factors responsible for variation in growth rate size scaling to be evaluated.
This study will help illuminate the role of the Amazon (and tropical forests broadly) in climate change. Growth must be tallied across tree sizes to understand how much of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide the Amazon takes out of the atmosphere. Since this study will ask what factors cause growth rate to change with size, it will also ask what factors drive carbon dioxide uptake and strengthen the link between climate change and the ecology of the Amazon.