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Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity

Gibson, Luke and Lee, Tien Ming and Koh, Lian Pin and Brook, Barry W. and Gardner, Toby A. and Barlow, Jos and Peres, Carlos A. and Bradshaw, Corey J. A. and Laurance, William F. and Lovejoy, Thomas E. and Sodhi, Navjot S. (2011) Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity. Nature, 478 (7369). pp. 378-381. ISSN 0028-0836

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Abstract

Human-driven land-use changes increasingly threaten biodiversity, particularly in tropical forests where both species diversity and human pressures on natural environments are high(1). The rapid conversion of tropical forests for agriculture, timber production and other uses has generated vast, human-dominated landscapes with potentially dire consequences for tropical biodiversity(2-5). Today, few truly undisturbed tropical forests exist, whereas those degraded by repeated logging and fires, as well as secondary and plantation forests, are rapidly expanding(6,7). Here we provide a global assessment of the impact of disturbance and land conversion on biodiversity in tropical forests using a meta-analysis of 138 studies. We analysed 2,220 pairwise comparisons of biodiversity values in primary forests (with little or no human disturbance) and disturbed forests. We found that biodiversity values were substantially lower in degraded forests, but that this varied considerably by geographic region, taxonomic group, ecological metric and disturbance type. Even after partly accounting for confounding colonization and succession effects due to the composition of surrounding habitats, isolation and time since disturbance, we find that most forms of forest degradation have an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on tropical biodiversity. Our results clearly indicate that when it comes to maintaining tropical biodiversity, there is no substitute for primary forests.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Nature
Uncontrolled Keywords: HUMAN-MODIFIED WORLD ; COUNTRYSIDE BIOGEOGRAPHY ; GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY ; DEGRADED LANDS ; CONSERVATION ; OPPORTUNITIES ; DISTURBANCE ; SCENARIOS
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 51821
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 06 Dec 2011 08:59
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2014 22:55
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/51821

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