The extent to which pre-Columbian societies altered Amazonian landscapes is hotly debated. We performed a basin-wide analysis of pre-Columbian impacts on Amazonian forests by overlaying known archaeological sites in Amazonia with the distributions and abundances of 85 woody species domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples. Domesticated species are five times more likely than nondomesticated species to be hyperdominant. Across the basin, the relative abundance and richness of domesticated species increase in forests on and around archaeological sites. In southwestern and eastern Amazonia, distance to archaeological sites strongly influences the relative abundance and richness of domesticated species. Our analyses indicate that modern tree communities in Amazonia are structured to an important extent by a long history of plant domestication by Amazonian peoples
The sensitivity of tropical forest carbon to climate is a key uncertainty in predicting global climate change. Although short-term drying and warming are known to affect forests, it is unknown if such effects translate into long-term responses. Here, we analyze 590 permanent plots measured across the tropics to derive the equilibrium climate controls on forest carbon. Maximum temperature is the most important predictor of aboveground biomass (−9.1 megagrams of carbon per hectare per degree Celsius), primarily by reducing woody productivity, and has a greater impact per °C in the hottest forests (>32.2°C). Our results nevertheless reveal greater thermal resilience than observations of short-term variation imply. To realize the long-term climate adaptation potential of tropical forests requires both protecting them and stabilizing Earth’s climate.
Species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used in ecology and conservation. Presence-only SDMs such as MaxEnt frequently use natural history collections (NHCs) as occurrence data, given their huge numbers and accessibility. NHCs are often spatially biased which may generate inaccuracies in SDMs. Here, we test how the distribution of NHCs and MaxEnt predictions relates to a spatial abundance model, based on a large plot dataset for Amazonian tree species, using inverse distance weighting (IDW). We also propose a new pipeline to deal with inconsistencies in NHCs and to limit the area of occupancy of the species. We found a significant but weak positive relationship between the distribution of NHCs and IDW for 66% of the species. The relationship between SDMs and IDW was also significant but weakly positive for 95% of the species, and sensitivity for both analyses was high. Furthermore, the pipeline removed half of the NHCs records. Presence-only SDM applications should consider this limitation, especially for large biodiversity assessments projects, when they are automatically generated without subsequent checking. Our pipeline provides a conservative estimate of a species’ area of occupancy, within an area slightly larger than its extent of occurrence, compatible to e.g. IUCN red list assessments.
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia is best approximated by a logseries with aggregated individuals, where aggregation increases with rarity. By averaging several methods to estimate total richness, we confirm that over 15,000 tree species are expected to occur in Amazonia. We also show that using ten times the number of plots would result in an increase to just ~50% of those 15,000 estimated species. To get a more complete sample of all tree species, rigorous field campaigns may be needed but the number of trees in Amazonia will remain an estimate for years to come.
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tree Diversity Network (ATDN). Utilizing a simple defining metric of at least half of the trees ≥ 10 cm diameter belonging to one species, we found only a few occurrences of monodominance in Amazonia, and the phenomenon was not significantly linked to previously hypothesized life history traits such wood density, seed mass, ectomycorrhizal associations, or Rhizobium nodulation. In our analysis, coppicing (the formation of sprouts at the base of the tree or on roots) was the only trait significantly linked to monodominance. While at specific locales coppicing or ectomycorrhizal associations may confer a considerable advantage to a tree species and lead to its monodominance, very few species have these traits. Mining of the ATDN dataset suggests that monodominance is quite rare in Amazonia, and may be linked primarily to edaphic factors.
In Amazonian lifestyle of ribeirinho communities traditional fish consumption is high and depends on available species; fish is also the principal via of meHg exposure and attendant hair-Hg concentrations.
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