Are mixed tropical tree plantations more resistant to drought than monocultures?
Tropical tree plantations usually consist of a single exotic fast growing species, but recent research describes positive effects on ecosystem functions from mixed tropical tree plantations. In this review, we present the current knowledge of drought resistance of tropical mixed species plantations and summarize preliminary evidence from a tree biodiversity experiment in Panama. Converting mono-specific stands into mixed ones may improve stand stability and might reduce increasing abiotic and biotic disturbances due to climate change. However, little is known about the extent to which tropical tree species or tropical tree communities can resist increasing disturbances in the short term, e.g., water limitations due to increasing dry season intensity or length, or about their resilience after such disturbances and their capacity to adapt to changing conditions in the long term. Studies relating drought resistance and resilience to community diversity are missing. Further, we highlight the urgent need for a multifactorial manipulative throughfall reduction experiment in tropical environments. The outcome of such studies would greatly assist the forestry sector in tropical regions to maintain highly productive and ecologically sound forest plantations in a changing climate.