Forest-climate interactions in fragmented tropical landscapes
In the tropics, habitat fragmentation alters forest-climate interactions in diverse ways. On a local scale (less than 1 km), elevated desiccation and wind disturbance near fragment margins lead to sharply increased tree mortality, thus altering canopy-gap dynamics, plant community composition, biomass dynamics and carbon storage. Fragmented forests are also highly vulnerable to edge-related fires, especially in regions with periodic droughts or strong dry seasons. At landscape to regional scales (10-1000 km), habitat fragmentation may have complex effects on forest-climate interactions, with important consequences for atmospheric circulation, water cycling and precipitation. Positive feedbacks among deforestation, regional climate change and fire could pose a serious threat for some tropical forests, but the details of such interactions are poorly understood.