Data from: Canopy height variation and environmental heterogeneity in the tropical dry forests of coastal Oaxaca, Mexico
Salas-Morales, Silvia H.; González, Edgar J.; Meave, J.A.; Meave, Jorge A. (2017), Data from: Canopy height variation and environmental heterogeneity in the tropical dry forests of coastal Oaxaca, Mexico, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8n4f6
Despite its importance for carbon storage and other ecosystem functions, the variation of vegetation canopy height is not yet well understood. We examined the relationship between this community attribute and environmental heterogeneity in a tropical dry forest of southern Mexico. We sampled vegetation in 15 sites along a 100-km coastal stretch of Oaxaca State, and measured the heights of all woody plants (excluding lianas). The majority of the ca. 4000 individuals recorded concentrated in the 4–8 m height range. We defined three plant sets to describe overall community canopy height at each site: a set including all plants, a set made up by the tallest plants representing 10 percent of all individuals, and a set comprising the 10 tallest plants. For each site we computed maximum height and the mean and median heights of the three sets. Significant collinearity was observed between the seven resulting height variables, but null distributions constructed through bootstrap revealed their different behaviors as functions of species richness and density of individuals. Through linear modeling and a model selection procedure, we identified 21 models that best described the variation of canopy height variables. These models pointed out to soil (measured as PC1 of a principal component analysis performed on 10 soil variables), water stress, and elevation as the main drivers of canopy height variation in the region. In the event of increasing water stress resulting from global climate change, the studied tropical dry forests could become shorter and thus decrease their carbon storage potential.