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      An ecosystem risk assessment of temperate and tropical forests of the Americas with an outlook on future conservation strategies

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          Summary

          The first continental Red List of Ecosystems assessment completed for the Americas

          For this research, we considered six indicators that evaluate the spatial and functional symptoms of collapse, across three time frames (historical, present and future). Findings show that most forest types are threatened by declines in distribution (e.g. deforestation and land use change), but degradation and functional decline are equally or more relevant for 40% of them. Some American forest ecosystems are threatened by historical land uses that are no longer active, while a similar number are threatened by emerging changes in land use or climate. Others, including the Tropical Seasonally Dry Forests have a long and ongoing trajectory of decline driven by multiple threats.

          This is  the first systematic ecosystem risk assessment that integrates multiple threatening processes at continental scale, and the first to couple risk assessment with a scenario analysis to identify cost-effective options for conservation action to reduce the risks.

          Based on our findings, the risk of collapse of forest in the Americas is widespread and affects all regions of the continent. All countries are and will face important conservation challenges. Our approach provides the necessary tools for estimating optimal conservation strategies as a trade-off between potential benefits and costs.

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          Most cited references18

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          Plant diversity patterns in neotropical dry forests and their conservation implications.

          Seasonally dry tropical forests are distributed across Latin America and the Caribbean and are highly threatened, with less than 10% of their original extent remaining in many countries. Using 835 inventories covering 4660 species of woody plants, we show marked floristic turnover among inventories and regions, which may be higher than in other neotropical biomes, such as savanna. Such high floristic turnover indicates that numerous conservation areas across many countries will be needed to protect the full diversity of tropical dry forests. Our results provide a scientific framework within which national decision-makers can contextualize the floristic significance of their dry forest at a regional and continental scale.
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            Increasing human dominance of tropical forests

            Tropical forests house over half of Earth’s biodiversity and are an important influence on the climate system. These forests are experiencing escalating human influence, altering their health and the provision of important ecosystem functions and services. Impacts started with hunting and millennia-old megafaunal extinctions (phase I), continuing via low-intensity shifting cultivation (phase II), to today’s global integration, dominated by intensive permanent agriculture, industrial logging, and attendant fires and fragmentation (phase III). Such ongoing pressures, together with an intensification of global environmental change, may severely degrade forests in the future (phase IV, global simplification) unless new “development without destruction” pathways are established alongside climate change–resilient landscape designs.
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              The impact of hunting on tropical mammal and bird populations

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Conservation Letters
                CONSERVATION LETTERS
                Wiley
                1755263X
                January 15 2019
                : e12623
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Centro de Estudios Botánicos y Agroforestales; Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas; Maracaibo Venezuela
                [2 ]Provita; Caracas Venezuela
                [3 ]IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management; Gland Switzerland
                [4 ]Centre for Ecosystem Science; University of New South Wales; Sydney New South Wales Australia
                [5 ]GTSA de la Amazonia Wataniba; sede Caracas Venezuela
                [6 ]IUCN Species Survival Commission; Gland Switzerland
                [7 ]Centro de Ecología; Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas; Caracas Venezuela
                [8 ]NatureServe; Arlington Virginia
                [9 ]Fundación EcoCiencia; Quito Ecuador
                [10 ]EcoHealth Alliance; New York USA
                [11 ]IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management; Nairobi Kenya
                Article
                10.1111/conl.12623
                7a7d666f-403e-433a-9f72-5a15640be54b
                © 2019

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                History

                The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7488872.v1
                Remote sensing,Ecology,Environmental studies,Environmental management, Policy & Planning,Environmental engineering
                Forest conservation,Forest management,risk of ecosystem collapse
                The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7488872.v1
                Remote sensing, Ecology, Environmental studies, Environmental management, Policy & Planning, Environmental engineering
                Forest conservation, Forest management, risk of ecosystem collapse

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