Multi-scale assessment of human-induced changes to Amazonian instream habitats

Gontijo Leal, Cecilia and Pompeu, Paulo Santos and Gardner, Toby Alan and Leitao, Rafael and Hughes, Robert and Kaufmann, Phil and Zuanon, Jansen and de Paula, Felipe R. and de Barros Ferraz, Silvio Frosini and Thomson, James R. and Mac Nally, Ralph and Ferreira, Joice and Barlow, Bernard Josiah (2016) Multi-scale assessment of human-induced changes to Amazonian instream habitats. Landscape Ecology, 31 (8). pp. 1725-1745. ISSN 0921-2973

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Context Land use change and forest degradation have myriad effects on tropical ecosystems. Yet their consequences for low-order streams remain very poorly understood, including in the world´s largest freshwater basin, the Amazon. Objectives Determine the degree to which physical and chemical characteristics of the instream habitat of low-order Amazonian streams change in response to past local- and catchment-level anthropogenic disturbances. Methods To do so, we collected field instream habitat (i.e., physical habitat and water quality) and landscape data from 99 stream sites in two eastern Brazilian Amazon regions. We used random forest regression trees to assess the relative importance of different predictor variables in determining changes in instream habitat response variables. Results Multiple drivers, operating at multiple spatial scales, were important in determining changes in the physical habitat and water quality of the sites. Although we found few similarities in modelled relationships between the two regions, we observed non-linear responses of specific instream characteristics to landscape change; for example 20 % of catchment deforestation resulted in consistently warmer streams. Conclusions Our results highlight the importance of local riparian and catchment-scale forest cover in shaping instream physical environments, but also underscore the importance of other land use changes and activities, such as road crossings and upstream agriculture intensification. In contrast to the property-scale focus of the Brazilian Forest code, which governs environmental regulations on private land, our results reinforce the importance of catchment-wide management strategies to protect stream ecosystem integrity.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Landscape Ecology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? anthropogenic impactsphysical and chemical habitatrandom forest modelswatershed managementdeforestationland use changefreshwateramazon basintropical forestecologynature and landscape conservationgeography, planning and development ??
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Deposited On:
08 Aug 2016 13:04
Last Modified:
12 Dec 2023 11:10