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Coincident scales of forest feedback on climate and conservation in a diversity hot spot

Webb, T.J., Gaston, K.J., Hannah, L. and Woodward, F.I. (2006) Coincident scales of forest feedback on climate and conservation in a diversity hot spot. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273 (1587). pp. 757-765. ISSN 1471-2954


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The dynamic relationship between vegetation and climate is now widely acknowledged. Climate influences the distribution of vegetation; and through a number of feedback mechanisms vegetation affects climate. This implies that land-use changes such as deforestation will have climatic consequences. However, the spatial scales at which such feedbacks occur remain largely unknown. Here, we use a large database of precipitation and tree cover records for an area of the biodiversity-rich Atlantic forest region in south eastern Brazil to investigate the forest-rainfall feedback at a range of spatial scales from ca 10(1)-10(4) km(2). We show that the strength of the feedback increases up to scales of at least 10(3) km(2), with the climate at a particular locality influenced by the pattern of landcover extending over a large area. Thus, smaller forest fragments, even if well protected, may suffer degradation due to the climate responding to land-use change in the surrounding area. Atlantic forest vertebrate taxa also require large areas of forest to support viable populations. Areas of forest of ca 10(3) km(2) would be large enough to support such populations at the same time as minimizing the risk of climatic feedbacks resulting from deforestation.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2006 The Royal Society. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: vegetation–climate feedbacks, land-use change, Atlantic forest, vertebrates, conservation
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2014 06:37
Published Version: http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/openurl.asp?gen...
Status: Published
Publisher: The Royal Society
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3364
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1308

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