Drought

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Drought strongly influences mortality in woodland and forest communities, while young trees often die quite soon after planting if not watered regularly in dry periods. Losses caused by this in plantings associated with the entrance to the English side of the Channel Tunnel were considerable (D.R. Helliwell, pers. comm.). The influence of drought is also often exerted in the most unlikely places, as in the everwet (i.e. normally always very wet) rain forest of the Lambir Hills National Park, Borneo reported by Potts (2003). Here the rainfall between late January and mid-April 1998 fell to less than a fifth of that normally expected. Forest-wide tree mortality rates during the drought period rose to 7.63% per year as compared with 2.40% per year in the period before the drought. Mortality oflarge rare trees was less than that of large common trees during the drought. This suggests that there may be a compensatory mechanism maintaining the persistence of rare species.

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