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Forest-Climate Interactions in Fragmented Tropical Landscapes

William F. Laurance
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 359, No. 1443, Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change (Mar. 29, 2004), pp. 345-352
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4142187
Page Count: 8
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Forest-Climate Interactions in Fragmented Tropical Landscapes
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Abstract

In the tropics, habitat fragmentation alters forest-climate interactions in diverse ways. On a local scale (less than 1 km), elevated desiccation and wind disturbance near fragment margins lead to sharply increased tree mortality, thus altering canopy-gap dynamics, plant community composition, biomass dynamics and carbon storage. Fragmented forests are also highly vulnerable to edge-related fires, especially in regions with periodic droughts or strong dry seasons. At landscape to regional scales (10-1000 km), habitat fragmentation may have complex effects on forest-climate interactions, with important consequences for atmospheric circulation, water cycling and precipitation. Positive feedbacks among deforestation, regional climate change and fire could pose a serious threat for some tropical forests, but the details of such interactions are poorly understood.

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