Young trees have special adaptations that could save the Amazon
Juvenile trees in the Amazon rainforest have an increased ability to perform photosynthesis while under drought conditions.
Some of the Amazon’s smaller understory trees, juvenile members of the same species as the canopy trees, are capable of changing the way they process water to withstand drought conditions and still continue to grow up towards available light.Pexels
The Amazon rainforest’s future is in peril. Biologists and environmental scientists have known for some time that government policies that oppress Indigenous rights and allow logging have weakened the forest’s cohesion, while climate change has led to unprecedented drought. Scientists worry we are nearing a tipping point for the Amazon, where loss of the forest will reach a level where the forest system as a whole won’t be able to sustain all-important local weather patterns and the movements of plants and animals essential to its well being. In time, some have predicted, the Amazon could become a desert. But new research suggests there may be some hope from juvenile trees. Young trees might be able to respond to the loss of their larger compatriots—canopy trees of the same species that currently get the bulk of the light—resulting in a radically changed forest rather than total devastation.