Novelty in Tropical Forests
Will the tropical forests of the future conform to historical species combinations or will the mixing of species lead to novel secondary forests? Will they function at similar rates as historical secondary forests do? The answers to these questions require the contributions of many disciplines because of the complexity introduced by human activities and the ever-changing environmental conditions. To explore the future conditions and composition of tropical forests, and the implications for ecosystems process such as element cycling and carbon accumulation, researchers and collaborators analyzed data from permanent long-term forest plots in the lowlands of Venezuela and supplemented the findings with a review of scientific literature relevant to assessing the future of tropical forests. Compared to current conditions, tropical forests in the future will have new combinations of species previously not observed. Defined as forest novelty, these new combinations based on mostly native species at continental scales take into account the current composition of a system relative to a historical baseline. Increasing human activity that modifies the landscape and climate change contribute to generation of novelty, and the resulting forests are termed novel forests to distinguish them from historical forests. This novelty likely contributes to the persistence of tropical forests in the presence of increasing levels of human activity. Novel forests are an answer to the changes induced by climate change and other anthropogenic disturbances, and as such require conservation measures, because as they mature, novel forests usually diversify and help restore lost biodiversity. This research also reviews strategies to conserve biodiversity and optimize ecological services using novel forest succession.
|Novelty in the tropical forests of the 21st century||(publication)|
Forest Service Partners