Spatial and temporal dynamics of anthropogenically influenced forests of the Brazilian Amazon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2f75r987w

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  • The Amazon Tropical Rain Forest is the largest tropical rain forest system, comprising approximately 65% of such forests on earth. Since the 1960's, human populations in the Brazilian Amazon have increased from two to over 20 million. Concomitant urbanization, forest conversion, and economic dependence on resource extraction have exerted severe demands on these fragile ecosystems. Its status as a global carbon source and sink and its unique biodiversity compels study of the Amazon and the dramatic changes sustained to optimize conservation strategies and ameliorate loss. While the overall effects of deforestation are well documented, little is known about the spatio-temporal interactions between forest dynamics and anthropogenic disturbance. As part of a collaborative NASA-Smithsonian Institute project, the present research focuses on the analysis and modeling of spatio-temporal forest dynamics in the Amazon across scales. The first analysis indicates that secondary forest tree species richness is significantly influenced by proximity to large forest tracts containing frugivorous fauna. These results underscore the necessity of conserving large tracts and the consideration of spatial design for adequate preservation of biodiversity. Methods developed in the second analysis demonstrate that while deforestation devastates biodiversity, secondary forests may contribute to the attenuation of greenhouse gas concentrations. However, this carbon tracking process is revealed to be more complex than previously assumed. Land tenure dynamics and heterogeneity preclude the use of simple static models. These results imply that modeling the world's largest rain forests effects on global greenhouse gas concentrations is highly uncertain and must be evaluated cautiously. The final analysis evaluates the diverse effects of specific large-scale development projects on forest integrity currently being planned. Riverside deforestation and road upgrades have the highest potential for effecting irreversible environmental damage. Protected forests and indigenous lands comprise 30% of the Brazilian Legal Amazon and have the potential to prevent the degradation of 464,151 km² of mature forest. However, political and economic pressures on indigenous peoples threaten to destabilize land tenure and land-use practices. Urgent efforts need to be directed to develop long-term and large-scale planning of Amazon land-use that takes such complexity into consideration.
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