Geomorphic transience moderates topographic controls on tropical canopy foliar traits

K. Dana Chadwick, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Tropical ecosystems that exist on mountainous terrain harbour enormous species and functional diversity. In addition, the morphology of these complex landscapes is dynamic. Stream channels respond to mountain uplift by eroding into rising rock bodies. Many local factors determine whether channels are actively downcutting, in relative steady-state, or aggrading. It is possible to assess the trajectory of catchment-level landscape evolution utilising lidar-based models, but the effect of these trajectories on biogeochemical gradients and organisation of canopy traits across climatic and geochemical conditions remain uncertain. We use canopy trait maps to assess how variable erosion rate within catchments influence hillslope controls on canopy traits across Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo. While foliar nutrient content generally increased along hillslopes, these relationships were moderated by catchment responses to changing erosion pressure, with active downcutting associated with greater turnover in canopy traits along hillslopes. These results provide an understanding of geomorphic process controls on forest functional diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1276-1286
Number of pages11
JournalEcology letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Foliar traits
  • imaging spectroscopy
  • landscape evolution
  • rock derived nutrients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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