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Title: Power laws and critical fragmentation in global forests

Abstract

The replacement of forest areas with human-dominated landscapes usually leads to fragmentation, altering the structure and function of the forest. Here we studied the dynamics of forest patch sizes at a global level, examining signals of a critical transition from an unfragmented to a fragmented state, using the MODIS vegetation continuous field. We defined wide regions of connected forest across continents and big islands, and combined five criteria, including the distribution of patch sizes and the fluctuations of the largest patch over the last sixteen years, to evaluate the closeness of each region to a fragmentation threshold. Regions with the highest deforestation rates---South America, Southeast Asia, Africa---all met these criteria and may thus be near a critical fragmentation threshold. This implies that if current forest loss rates are maintained, wide continental areas could suddenly fragment, triggering extensive species loss and degradation of ecosystems services.

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ORCiD logo
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1496619
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-122668
Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
fragmentation, fo, st

Citation Formats

Saravia, Leonardo A., Doyle, Santiago R., and Bond-Lamberty, Ben. Power laws and critical fragmentation in global forests. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-36120-w.
Saravia, Leonardo A., Doyle, Santiago R., & Bond-Lamberty, Ben. Power laws and critical fragmentation in global forests. United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-36120-w.
Saravia, Leonardo A., Doyle, Santiago R., and Bond-Lamberty, Ben. Sat . "Power laws and critical fragmentation in global forests". United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-36120-w.
@article{osti_1496619,
title = {Power laws and critical fragmentation in global forests},
author = {Saravia, Leonardo A. and Doyle, Santiago R. and Bond-Lamberty, Ben},
abstractNote = {The replacement of forest areas with human-dominated landscapes usually leads to fragmentation, altering the structure and function of the forest. Here we studied the dynamics of forest patch sizes at a global level, examining signals of a critical transition from an unfragmented to a fragmented state, using the MODIS vegetation continuous field. We defined wide regions of connected forest across continents and big islands, and combined five criteria, including the distribution of patch sizes and the fluctuations of the largest patch over the last sixteen years, to evaluate the closeness of each region to a fragmentation threshold. Regions with the highest deforestation rates---South America, Southeast Asia, Africa---all met these criteria and may thus be near a critical fragmentation threshold. This implies that if current forest loss rates are maintained, wide continental areas could suddenly fragment, triggering extensive species loss and degradation of ecosystems services.},
doi = {10.1038/s41598-018-36120-w},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
issn = {2045-2322},
number = 1,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {12}
}