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An Amazonian rainforest and its fragments as a laboratory of global change [Biological Reviews]

Keywords : Amazonia, biodiversity, carbon storage, climate change, drought, ecosystem services, edge effects, environmental synergisms, habitat fragmentation, nature reserves

by Frédéric Magné - published on

We synthesize findings from one of the world’s largest and longest-running experimental investigations, the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP). Spanning an area of ∼1000 km2 in central Amazonia, the BDFFP was initially designed to evaluate the effects of fragment area on rainforest biodiversity and ecological processes. However, over its 38-year history to date the project has far transcended its original mission, and now focuses more broadly on landscape dynamics, forest regeneration, regional- and global-change phenomena, and their potential interactions and implications for Amazonian forest conservation. The project has yielded a wealth of insights into the ecological and environmental changes in fragmented forests. For instance, many rainforest species are naturally rare and hence are either missing entirely from many fragments or so sparsely represented as to have little chance of long-term survival. Additionally, edge effects are a prominent driver of fragment dynamics, strongly affecting forest microclimate, tree mortality, carbon storage and a diversity of fauna.(...)

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