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 553192
Title Forests expand as livestock pressure declines in subtropical South America
Author(s) Bernardi, Rafael E.; Buddeberg, Marion; Arim, Matías; Holmgren, Milena
Source Ecology and Society 24 (2019)2. - ISSN 1708-3087
DOI https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10688-240219
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
PE&RC
Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2019
Keyword(s) Agriculture - Campos - Cattle - Ecological transitions - Ecosystem services - Grasslands - Sheep - Tree cover - Uruguay - Vegetation shifts
Abstract

Forests, savannas, and grasslands are prevalent across the landscapes of South America. Land uses associated with these ecosystems have influenced economies from household to country scales, shaping social-ecological organization across the region since pre-Hispanic societies. Recent studies suggest that tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and forests represent alternative ecosystem states. Transitions between these ecosystem states can be promoted by changes in disturbance regimes and by land uses determined by the organization of societies and their activities. We analyzed how changes in agriculture, fire, and livestock management influenced forest cover over a 45-year span (1966-2011) in the Campos region, an extensive subtropical ecotone between rain forests and grasslands of South America. We found that forests contracted in areas with high crop agriculture, whereas forests increased in those grasslands where livestock densities had been reduced. These patterns were strongly associated with soil and topographic conditions because they broadly determine the potential land productivity and use. Our results show that current land use and disturbance regimes explain the large extent of grasslands across the South American Campos and suggest that changes in land use and disturbance regimes could facilitate or prevent transitions between subtropical forests, savannas, and grasslands altering the provision of ecosystem services linked to them.

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