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Data from: Simulating climate change in situ in a tropical rainforest understorey using active air warming and CO2 addition

Cite this dataset

Bader, Maaike Y. et al. (2022). Data from: Simulating climate change in situ in a tropical rainforest understorey using active air warming and CO2 addition [Dataset]. Dryad.


Background: Future climate-change effects on plant growth are most effectively studied using microclimate-manipulation experiments, the design of which has seen much advance in recent years. For tropical forests, however, such experiments are particularly hard to install and have hence not been widely used. We present a system of active heating and CO2 fertilisation for use in tropical forest understoreys, where passive heating is not possible. The system was run for two years to study climate-change effects on epiphytic bryophytes, but is also deemed suitable to study other understorey plants.

Methods: Warm-air and CO2 addition were applied in 1.6-m tall, 1.2-m diameter hexagonal open-top chambers and the microclimate in the chambers compared to outside air. Warming was regulated with a feedback system while CO2 addition was fixed.

Results: The setup successfully heated the air by 2.8K and increased CO2 by 250 ppm, on average, with +3K and +300 ppm as the targets. Variation was high, especially due to technical break-downs, but not biased to times of the day or year. In the warming treatment, absolute humidity slightly increased but relative humidity dropped by between 6 to 15% (and the vapour-pressure deficit increased) compared to ambient, depending on the level of warming achieved in each chamber.

Conclusions: Compared to other heating systems, the chambers provide a realistic warming and CO2 treatment, but moistening the incoming air would be needed to avoid drying as a confounding factor. The method is preferable over infrared heating in the radiation-poor forest understory, particularly when combined with CO2 fertilisation. It is suitable for plant-level studies, but ecosystem-level studies in forests may require chamber-less approaches like infrared heating and free-air CO2 enrichment. By presenting the advantages and limitations of our approach we aim to facilitate further climate-change experiments in tropical forests, which are urgently needed to understand the processes determining future element fluxes and biodiversity changes in these ecosystems.

Usage notes

We here present the microclimatic data used in this paper. The list of data files together with their detailed explanations can be found in the README.pdf


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: BA 3843/3-3

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: ZO 94/8-3