Biomass Collapse in Amazonian Forest Fragments

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Science  07 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5340, pp. 1117-1118
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5340.1117

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Rain forest fragments in central Amazonia were found to experience a dramatic loss of above-ground tree biomass that is not offset by recruitment of new trees. These losses were largest within 100 meters of fragment edges, where tree mortality is sharply increased by microclimatic changes and elevated wind turbulence. Permanent study plots within 100 meters of edges lost up to 36 percent of their biomass in the first 10 to 17 years after fragmentation. Lianas (climbing woody vines) increased near edges but usually compensated for only a small fraction of the biomass lost as a result of increased tree mortality.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: wfl{at}

  • Present address: Station de Recherches Forestieres, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique–Groupe Regional de Guyane, Boite Postale 709, 97387 Kourou Cedex, France.

  • Present address: Counselor to the Secretary for Biodiversity and Conservation, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, USA.

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