Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 497002
Title Why are forests so scarce in subtropical South America? The shaping roles of climate, fire and livestock
Author(s) Bernardi de Leon, Rafael; Holmgren, Milena; Arim, Matías; Scheffer, Marten
Source Forest Ecology and Management 363 (2016). - ISSN 0378-1127 - p. 212 - 217.
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) Campos - Cattle - Rangelands - Savanna - Tropical tree cover - Woody encroachment

Forest cover is notoriously sparse across neotropical southeastern South America. In particular, the practically treeless landscapes of the Campos, as they are locally known, have puzzled ecologists since Darwin's time. We used remote-sensing information and spatial regression models to relate tree cover to resource availability (i.e. climate, soil fertility, soil water holding capacity), disturbances (i.e. fire occurrence, cattle grazing) and landscape features that can mediate the effects of both (i.e. topography, distance to rivers). To better understand these relationships, we conducted the analysis at different spatial scales across non-cultivated areas of southeastern South America. Overall, tree cover in southeastern South America increases with precipitation but is limited by livestock densities and fire occurrence. Forests are concentrated close to rivers, especially in the Campos region, where cattle grazing seems to prevent tree expansion into the grasslands.

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