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Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change$
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Yadvinder Malhi and Oliver Phillips

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567066.001.0001

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The longevity and resilience of the Amazon rainforest

The longevity and resilience of the Amazon rainforest

(p.167) CHAPTER 14 The longevity and resilience of the Amazon rainforest
Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change

Mark Maslin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter highlights and explains the impressive story of the persistence of the Amazonian rainforest throughout the Cenozoic. Palaeoclimate and palaeoecological records suggest that the Amazon rainforest originated in the late Cretaceous and has been a permanent feature of South America for at least the last 55 million years. During the late Palaocene the ‘rainforest’ or ‘megathermal moist forest’ (MTMF) may have stretched as far south as 45°S in South America. The main climatic feature of the last 55 million years has been global cooling and the general constriction of the megathermal moist forests to the tropics. However, the Amazon rainforest has survived the high temperatures of the early Eocene climate optimum and the aridity and low carbon dioxide levels of the Quaternary glacial periods. The Amazon rainforest should, therefore, not be viewed as a geologically ephemeral feature of South America, but rather as a constant feature of the global Cenozoic biosphere. The forest is now, however, entering a set of climatic conditions with no past analogue.

Keywords:   Amazon forest, tropical rainforests, longevity, South America, climate change, megathermal moist forest, global Cenozoic biosphere

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