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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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Ecological responses of Amazonian forests to El Niño-induced surface fires

Ecological responses of Amazonian forests to El Niño-induced surface fires

(p.87) CHAPTER 8 Ecological responses of Amazonian forests to El Niño-induced surface fires
Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change

Jos Barlow

Carlos A. Peres

Oxford University Press

Over the last twenty years the combined effects of El Niñno-induced droughts and land-use change have greatly increased the frequency of fire incidents in humid tropical forests. Despite the potential for rapid ecosystem alteration and the current prevalence of wildfire disturbance, the consequences of such fires for tropical forest biodiversity remain poorly understood. This chapter provides a pantropical review of the current state of knowledge on these fires, including new data from seasonally dry forests in central Brazilian Amazonia. Tree mortality and changes in forest structure are strongly linked to burn severity. Despite the paucity of data on faunal responses to tropical forest fires, some trends are becoming apparent; for example, large canopy frugivores and understorey insectivorous birds appear to be highly sensitive to changes in forest structure and composition during the first years following fires. Finally, the viability of techniques and legislation for reducing forest flammability and preventing anthropogenic ignition sources from coming into contact with flammable forests is tested.

Keywords:   forest biomass, carbon, birds, large vertebrates, forest regeneration, phase-shift, forest fires, El Niñno

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