The return of forest cover was found to be substantial in the study area, with an overall net increase of 4 % during the period 1993-2000. These dry forests have the highest level of plant endemism (species found only in a particular region) in all of Madagascar and are listed as one of the 200 most important "ecoregions" of the world. The study also shows that the relationship between human population density and deforestation is much more complex than previously thought.
"We were surprised to find the highest deforestation rates in an area with low human population density and large distance to markets, while the area with highest population density had stable forest cover," says Thomas Elmqvist, Professor at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden.
The results, based on analyses of satellite images and vegetation on the ground, surprised the team of scientists from Sweden and the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar. As a result, they went further and also made a social inventory based on interviews with local forest officials and villagers. This inventory revealed that loss of forest occurred mainly in areas with insecure property rights, while areas with well-defined local norms, rules and property rights for forest management showed either regenerating or stable forest cover.
"Regeneration of tropical forests has so far mostly been studied by ecologists trying to understand factors like seed dispersal and soil quality, our study clearly shows the importance of an increased understanding also of the social context behind forest regeneration," says Elmqvist. The loss of tropical forests is a concern worldwide since these forests harbor more than 50 % of the terrestrial species richness in the world and have a large importance in global climate regulation. Estimates of tropical forest loss are still uncertain and a 50 % margin of error appears possible. However, scientists know even less about regeneration of tropical forests.
"We now know a fair amount about the human social context in which tropical forest loss is embedded, but very little is known about the role of social institutions in influencing regeneration of tropical forests," says Maria Tengö from Stockholm university and one of the authors behind the new study.
The new study points to the large capacity of dry tropical forests to spontaneously regenerate if existing local rules and norms (including well-defined property rights) mitigate other drivers of deforestation and alternative land-use.
Professor Thomas Elmqvist | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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