Impacts of tropical forest disturbance on species vital rates

Cindy C.P. Cosset, James J. Gilroy, David P. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Tropical forests are experiencing enormous threats from deforestation and habitat degradation. Much knowledge of the impacts of these land-use changes on tropical species comes from studies examining patterns of richness and abundance. Demographic vital rates (survival, reproduction, and movement) can also be affected by land-use change in a way that increases species vulnerability to extirpation, but in many cases these impacts may not be manifested in short-term changes in abundance or species richness. We conducted a literature review to assess current knowledge and research effort concerning how land-use change affects species vital rates in tropical forest vertebrates. We found a general paucity of empirical research on demography across taxa and regions, with some biases toward mammals and birds and land-use transitions, including fragmentation and agriculture. There is also considerable between-species variation in demographic responses to land-use change, which could reflect trait-based differences in species sensitivity, complex context dependencies (e.g., between-region variation), or inconsistency in methods used in studies. Efforts to improve understanding of anthropogenic impacts on species demography are underway, but there is a need for increased research effort to fill knowledge gaps in understudied tropical regions and taxa. The lack of information on demographic impacts of anthropogenic disturbance makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions about the magnitude of threats to tropical ecosystems under anthropogenic pressures. Thus, determining conservation priorities and improving conservation effectiveness remains a challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • land‐use change
  • survival
  • reproductive success
  • movement
  • selective logging
  • forest fragmentation
  • agriculture
  • fire
  • fragmentación de bosques
  • cambio en el uso de suelo
  • land-use change
  • fuego
  • agricultura
  • supervivencia
  • movimiento
  • éxito reproductivo
  • tala selectiva

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