Ecological responses of Amazonian forests to El Niño-induced surface fires

Jos Barlow, Carlos A. Peres

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the last twenty years the combined effects of El Niñno-induced droughts and land-use change have greatly increased the frequency of fire incidents in humid tropical forests. Despite the potential for rapid ecosystem alteration and the current prevalence of wildfire disturbance, the consequences of such fires for tropical forest biodiversity remain poorly understood. This chapter provides a pantropical review of the current state of knowledge on these fires, including new data from seasonally dry forests in central Brazilian Amazonia. Tree mortality and changes in forest structure are strongly linked to burn severity. Despite the paucity of data on faunal responses to tropical forest fires, some trends are becoming apparent; for example, large canopy frugivores and understorey insectivorous birds appear to be highly sensitive to changes in forest structure and composition during the first years following fires. Finally, the viability of techniques and legislation for reducing forest flammability and preventing anthropogenic ignition sources from coming into contact with flammable forests is tested.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191717888
ISBN (Print)0198567065, 9780198567066
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007


  • Birds
  • Carbon
  • El Niñno
  • Forest biomass
  • Forest fires
  • Forest regeneration
  • Large vertebrates
  • Phaseshift

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