, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 145-155

Vegetation effects on microclimate in lowland tropical forest in Costa Rica

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The temperature and atmospheric humidity in a tropical lowland rain forest in Costa Rica were measured in order to assess the microclimate in different forest environments. Two disturbed sites, a single tree fall gap (400 m2) and an 0.5 hectare clearing, were compared for periods up to two years after disturbance. Two locations in primary forest, the canopy and understory, were also monitored. Temperatures were highest in the clearing, intermediate in the canopy and gap which were similar, and lowest in the understory. Vapor pressure deficits (VPD) were highest in the clearing, followed by the canopy, the gap and the understory. With regrowth of the vegetation in the gap and clearing sites, the temperatures and vapor pressure deficits significantly decreased. After 1 year, the microclimate at seedling height in the clearing resembled that of the gap, and after two years the microclimate of the gap was very similar to that of the understory. Seasonal differences in temperature and VPD were small compared to differences caused by changes in the stature of the vegetation.