|Kupers, S J; Wirth, C; Engelbrecht, BMJ; Rüger, N: Dry season soil water potential maps of a 50 hectare tropical forest plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, Scientific Data, 6, 63 (2019), doi:10.1038/s41597-019-0072-z|
Fine scale spatial variation in soil moisture influences plant performance, species distributions and diversity. However, detailed information on local soil moisture variation is scarce, particularly in species- rich tropical forests. We measured soil water potential and soil water content in the 50-ha Forest Dynamics Plot on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama, one of the best-studied tropical forests in the world. We present maps of soil water potential for several dry season stages during a regular year and during an El Niño drought. Additionally, we provide code that allows users to create maps for specific dates. The maps can be combined with other freely available datasets such as long-term vegetation censuses (ranging from seeds to adult trees), data on other resources (e.g. light and nutrients) and remote sensing data (e.g. LiDAR and imaging spectroscopy). Users can study questions in various disciplines such as population and community ecology, plant physiology and hydrology under current and future climate conditions.