Ecosystem Decay of Amazonian Forest Fragments: a 22-Year Investigation

Authors

  • William F. Laurance,

    1. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , Apartado 2072, Balboa, Republic of Panamá, email laurancew@tivoli.si.edu
    2. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
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  • Thomas E. Lovejoy,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. H. John Heinz III Center for Science , Economics and Environment, 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20004, U.S.A.
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  • Heraldo L. Vasconcelos,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
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  • Emilio M. Bruna,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
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  • Raphael K. Didham,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. Department of Zoology , University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Philip C. Stouffer,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. Department of Biological Sciences , Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA 70402–0736, U.S.A.
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  • Claude Gascon,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. Conservation International , 1919 M Street, Suite 1600, Washington, D.C. 20036, U.S.A.
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  • Richard O. Bierregaard,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. Department of Biology , University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC 28223, U.S.A.
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  • Susan G. Laurance,

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. Department of Ecosystem Management , University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia
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  • Erica Sampaio

    1. Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project , National Institute for Amazonian Research ( INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011–970, Brazil
    2. Department of Zoophysiology , University of Tuebingen, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany
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Abstract

Abstract: We synthesized key findings from the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, the world's largest and longest-running experimental study of habitat fragmentation. Although initially designed to assess the influence of fragment area on Amazonian biotas, the project has yielded insights that go far beyond the original scope of the study. Results suggest that edge effects play a key role in fragment dynamics, that the matrix has a major influence on fragment connectivity and functioning, and that many Amazonian species avoid even small (<100-m–wide) clearings. The effects of fragmentation are highly eclectic, altering species richness and abundances, species invasions, forest dynamics, the trophic structure of communities, and a variety of ecological and ecosystem processes. Moreover, forest fragmentation appears to interact synergistically with ecological changes such as hunting, fires, and logging, collectively posing an even greater threat to the rainforest biota.

Abstract

Resumen: Sintetizamos resultados clave del proyecto sobre Dinámicas Biológicas de Fragmentos de bosque, el estudio experimental sobre fragmentación del hábitat más largo y de mayor trayectoria del mundo. A pesar de que inicialmente el proyecto se diseñó para evaluar la influencia del área de fragmentos en biotas del Amazonas, ha proporcionado un entendimiento que va mas allá del propósito original del estudio. Los resultados sugieren que los efectos de borde juegan un papel clave en las dinámicas de los fragmentos, que la matriz tiene una influencia mayor sobre la conectividad y el funcionamiento del fragmento y que muchas de las especies del Amazonas evitan áreas taladas pequeñas (de hasta < 100 m de ancho). Los efectos de la fragmentación son altamente eclécticos, alterando la riqueza y abundancia de especies, las invasiones de especies, las dinámicas del bosque, la estructura trófica comunitaria y una variedad de procesos ecológicos y del ecosistema. Mas aún, la fragmentación del bosque aparentemente interactúa sinergísticamente con cambios ecológicos como lo son la caza, los incendios y la tala, representando colectivamente una gran amenaza sobre la biota del bosque lluvioso.

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