, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1419-1425

Forest fragmentation, synergisms and the impoverishment of neotropical forests

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Abstract

It is well documented that the negative effects of habitat fragmentation are strong enough to promote local as well as regional extinction of canopy and emergent trees in neotropical forests. However, forest fragmentation does not occur alone, but is always associated with other human-induced threats to trees, such as logging, forest burning and hunting of key vertebrate seed dispersers within forest remnants. This association occurs because forest resources are, at least during a certain period, the main income source for local human populations. It is now possible to establish how these threats act in concert causing tree species impoverishment. Based on a predictive model, it is predicted that the most fragmented forest regions have lost or will lose an important part of their tree diversity. New integrated research must urgently test this prediction and investigate how human activities might be regulated in both old and new tropical forest frontiers to avoid species loss. If we fail to do this we will miss the opportunity of proposing sound and efficient guidelines to rescue neotropical forests from species impoverishment.