Central and South America tropical dry forest (TDF) is a water-limited biome with a high number of endemic species and numerous ecosystem services which has experienced a boom in research in the last decade. Although the number of case studies across these seasonal, water-limited, tropical forests has increased, there has not been a comprehensive review to assess the physiological variability of this biome across the continent and assess how these forests respond to climatic variables. Additionally, understanding forest change and resilience under climatic variability, currently and in the future, is essential for assessing the future extent and health of forests in the future. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to provide a literature review on the variability of TDF diversity and structure across a latitudinal gradient and to assess how these components respond to differences in climatic variables across this geographic area. We first assess the current state of understanding of the structure, biomass, phenological cycles, and successional stages across the latitudinal gradient. We subsequently review the response of these five areas to differences in precipitation, temperature, and extreme weather events, such as droughts and hurricanes. We find that there is a range of adaptability to precipitation, with many areas exhibiting drought tolerance except under the most extreme circumstances, while being susceptible to damage from increased extreme precipitation events. Finally, we use this climatic response to provide a commentary on the projected resilience of TDFs under climatic changes, finding a likelihood of resilience under drying scenarios, although model projections do not agree on the magnitude or direction of precipitation change. This review of quantitative studies will provide more concrete details on the current diversity that encompasses the TDF, the natural climatic ranges under which this ecosystem can survive and thrive, and can help inform future forest management practices under climate change scenarios.
K. Stan, A. Sánchez-Azofeifa