Tropinet Vol. 9 No.2, June 1998

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Continental Scale Ecology in Amazonia

by Michael Keller (USDA Forest Service; and Niro Higuchi (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia;


The forests of the Amazon region of South America cover nearly 6 million square km, an area larger than Western Europe. Over the past three decades, the forests of Amazonia have experienced rapid changes owing to human activities. In the Brazilian legal Amazon region alone, official government statistics compiled from exhaustive satellite-based surveys show that approximately 517,000 km2 have been cleared through 1996. Large, but unquantified, areas of forest have been affected by selective timber extraction and fires. Economic development and the pressures caused by population growth will undoubtedly spur future development in the Amazon region. If the past is a guide, development will lead to increasing deforestation.

Readers of Tropinet recognize the Amazon region for its immense biological resources. The forests of the Amazon also play a controlling role in the earth's climate system through their exchanges of energy, water, carbon and trace gases. Evaporation from Amazon forests accounts for 30-50% of the rainfall in the region. Large-scale changes in land use may greatly affect regional and continental rainfall and climate. Some models predict that complete clearing of Amazonia's forests and replacement by pasture would lead to temperature increases of up to 2( C and rainfall decreases from 2 to 30%. The amount of carbon dioxide emissions from Amazonian deforestation is equivalent to over 5% of the annual global total of carbon dioxide released through burning fossil fuels. This carbon release may be offset by growth in mature forests or by regrowth in secondary forests: recent estimates of net ecosystem exchange in mature forests exceed 1 ton C per hectare per year.

Predictions of future climate and ecosystem functions in the Amazon cannot be made with certainty. To improve our understanding, Brazilian scientists began in 1993 to mobilize human and financial resources to study the large-scale effects of Amazonian deforestation and development. The Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) is the result of years of planning by hundreds of scientists. This program has been approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology. International agreements for cooperation in this program are pending with the United States and the European Union. National committees for LBA have been formed in other Amazon region nations. Because of its heritage in atmospheric sciences, LBA is called an experiment. To an ecologist, LBA is not formally an experiment but a large multidisciplinary program of research that poses 2 questions: (1) How does Amazonia currently function as a regional entity?; and (2) How will changes in land use and climate affect the biological, chemical and physical functions of Amazonia, including the sustainability of development in the region and the influence of Amazonia on global climate?

LBA scientific activities will cover six themes: (1) Land use and land cover change; (2) physical climate; (3) carbon dynamics; (4) biogeochemistry; (5) atmospheric chemistry; and (6) land surface hydrology and aquatic chemistry. An international Science Steering Committee integrates these multiple themes. Operationally, the LBA Experiment is divided into modules funded through national or multinational agencies.

One example of an LBA module is LBA-Ecology, a NASA initiative that supports over 30 peer-reviewed investigations by over 150 South American and U.S. scientists. These projects focus on the themes of land use and land cover change, carbon dynamics, and biogeochemistry. Scientists in LBA-Ecology will focus their work on two transects across the Amazon region, covering climatic conditions from wet, aseasonal forests to relatively dry and seasonal transition forests or savannas. A range of land uses including pasture, agriculture, and selective logging will be nested within sites arrayed along the transects. LBA sites are closely connected to Amazonian research institutions to support current efforts with the rich history of previous research. Using both in situ and remote sensing technologies, measurements will be conducted continuously rather than in brief campaigns. To capture the effects of seasonal and inter-annual variation, many studies will run from three to five years.

The program managers and scientific planners realize that when our "experiment" ends we will leave behind many unsolved problems and a region in search of options for sustainable land use. LBA-Ecology made history for NASA: LBA-Ecology investigations must dedicate resources for education and training of South American students and technical professionals. When the program is completed, we hope to leave behind both a large stack of papers and a cadre of trained researchers who will move forward with new studies aimed at resolving regional and global problems.

For additional information about LBA contact: Dr. C.A. Nobre or Dr. J. A. Marengo, Centro de Previsao de Tempo e Estudos Clim ticos, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas, Brazil, Email:;, WWW:; Dr. P. Kabat, Dr. R. W.A. Hutjes or Dr. A.J. Dolman, DLO Winand Staring Centre for Integrated Land, Soil and Water Research, Netherlands, Email:;;; or Dr. D. Wickland, Dr. A. Janetos, NASA-Office of Earth Sciences, Email:;


Southern Africa Forest Sector Web Site. The Government of Malawi, through its Department of Forestry, is responsible for coordination of the Southern African Development Community's forestry sector through the Forestry Sector Technical Co- ordination Unit (FSTCU). The forestry sector program involves a series of special projects, many of which have received international funding. These projects include an urban fuelwood project, regional forest inventory, regional tree seed center network, strengthening of forestry colleges, reforestation and erosion control in Mozambique, development of the Centre for Advanced Practical Forestry Training, Tanzania, management of indigenous forests, development of a regional herbarium, conservation of endangered species, and development of a forestry information network. Information available on the FSTCU web site includes: the mandate of the FSTCU, the SADC forestry program, policy papers, newsletters, regional database, forestry library, links, and more,


Forests and the Indonesian Economic Crisis. An analysis of the potential effect of the 1998 economic crisis on Indonesian forests by Daju Pradnja Resosudarmo (Email: is posted on the web site of the Center for International Forestry Research, WWW:

Impact of Logging on Biodiversity. Commercial timber production in natural forests has been long carried out in temperate countries, and more recently in the tropics. The effects of logging on forest vegetation and animals have been studied around the world. Much research has focused on wildlife species, especially so-called "flagship" species. However, to fully document the impacts of logging, it is necessary to consider all components of biodiversity. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is organizing a meeting of IUFRO Division 8.07.00 to consider the impact of logging on biodiversity. The conference will be held in Hanoi, Viet Nam, from 18-22 October, 1999, and will be hosted by the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam (FSIV). FSIV is the main forestry research organization in Vietnam, and operates under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Science,Technology and Environment.

The main objectives of the conference are: to discuss methods to evaluate the impact of logging on biodiversity, to share information on on-going or completed research, to draw out common themes, and to identify areas requiring more work. Research results from both temperate and tropical countries will be presented. The program will consist of plenary and concurrent sessions for invited papers, and poster sessions for contributed papers. Those interested in presenting posters should consult the conference's web site or contact the organizers for more information. Post conference tours and an accompanying person's program will be available. Information: Titiek Setyawati, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), PO Box 6596 JKPWB Jakarta 10065, Indonesia. Tel: +62 251 622622; Fax: +62 251 622100; Email:; WWW: and


Ecology Congresses. IV Congreso Latinoamericano de Ecolog–a and II Congreso Peruano de Ecolog–a will be held in Arequipa, Peru, 20-25 October, 1998. The focus for this year's congress will be on the most important environmental problems for Peru and Latin America. Symposia are being actively solicited. The congress can provide administrative and logistical support for symposia, and can offer help in soliciting economic support. Several symposia have thus far been planned, including: Recuperation and sustainable use of the Peruvian-Chilean coast range using water derived from fogs, El Nio 97-98, Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, and Ecological monitoring. Contributed papers and posters will be accepted. Courses being held in conjunction with the Congresses include: Rapid Assessment Program (Conservation International) and Quantitative Methods for Management of Biological Diversity (Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University). A round-table discussion on "Sustainable Development" will be sponsored by the National Environmental Council of Peru. Field trips to local ecosystems and social activities will be planned. Important dates: discounted registration ends: 31 August; receipt of abstracts: 12 September; notice of acceptance of abstracts: 28 September. Information: Conference coordinator Prof. Percy Jim,nez, Facultad de Biolog–a y Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de San Agust–n, Casilla 985, Arequipa, Peru. Tel. and Fax: (5154) (288971); Email:


Forest Canopies 1998: Global Perspectives. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Florida will host this international forum, 4-9 November, 1998. Topics include: forest canopy conservation, research, and education, and have been expanded to include policy issues and how scientists can better communicate their findings to facilitate conservation and management of forest resources. A pre-conference workshop where students and educators will interact with canopy scientists is planned. Several post- conference field trips will be held, including one to Peru to visit the world's largest canopy walkway. Attendance is strictly limited to 250 participants. Registration is first come, first serve. Information: Meg Lowman, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. 811 South Palm Ave., Sarasota, Florida 34236-7726, Tel: (941) 366- 5731. Fax: (941) 366-9807. Information on post-conference field trip to the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER): Stephen L. Timme, Email:; or Jim Castner, Email: WWW:

Field Station Profile: Pasoh Forest Reserve


Pasoh Forest Reserve is located approximately eight km from Simpang Pertang in Negri Sembilan and is about 2 Æ hours drive from Kuala Lampur. Surrounded on three sides by oil palm plantations and joined to a virgin hill dipterocarp forest on its northeastern boundary, the reserve encompasses 2,450 ha. The main portion of the reserve consists of lowland dipterocarp forest of the Keruing-Meranti type. The core area is 600 ha. in pristine condition, however, the surrounding buffer zone consists of regenerating logged lowland forest. Maintained by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), Pasoh has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve under the MAB Programme. Pasoh is known for its floristically-rich forest. Within an area of 50 ha, a total of 335,256 stems >1 cm dbh have been recorded; these represent 814 species, 294 genera and 78 families. The most common plant families are Euphorbiaceae, Annonaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Leguminosae, and Burseraceae. Five 2 ha permanent ecological plots have been established within the reserve for ecological studies under the International Biological Programme. In 1985, a 50 ha permanent plot was established by FRIM in collaboration with the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. All tree species > 1 cm dbh were tagged, identified, and mapped. The Pasoh arboretum encompasses 2.2 ha and has a total of 733 trees of 267 species which have been tagged, identified, and mapped.

Most recently, an aluminum alloy tree tower-canopy walkway system has been constructed. Funded by the government of Japan, the system consists of three 40 m. tall free standing towers with individual stairways for each station. The towers are held in place by steel cables and interlinked at a height of 30 m by walkways forming a triangle. The towers facilitate microclimatic and physiological studies at various heights of the forest canopy, while the walkways provide convenient access to the canopy for phenological observations and faunal studies. Each tower carries an efficient lightning conductor. The height of one tower has recently been extended to 52 m to allow for measurements of carbon dioxide fluxes above the tree canopy level.

FRIM has established well-equipped living quarters both at Simpang Pertang, and inside the Pasoh Forest Reserve area. At the base station in Pasoh there are dormitory and housing facilities with a total of seven rooms, accommodating up to 16 persons. These are situated in a clearing within the forest, together with a small laboratory and library for research and reference work. A generator on the premises supplies electricity. An additional four rooms can accommodate 8 persons in the FRIM house in Simpang Pertang. A few small grocery shops and restaurants are located nearby.

Information: Dr. N. Manokaran, Email: or Dr. S. Appanah, Email:, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Kepong, 52109 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or Prof. Tatuo Kira, Emeritus Professor, Osaka City University, Lake Biwa Research Institute, 1-10 Uchidehama Otsu, Shiga 520, Japan. Fax: 81 (77) 526-4803.


Meetings and Events

Items marked (*) are new this issue


Columnar Cacti and their Mutualists: Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation.
Tehuacan City, Mexico, 29 June-3 July. Workshop including invited talks, posters, informal discussion, and field trips. Information: Ted Fleming. Tel: (305) 284-6881. Fax: (305) 284-3039. Email: or Alfonso Valiente-Banuet

Animal Behavior Society Annual Meeting. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 18-22 July. Contributed talks and posters on Spiders in Behavioral Ecological Research. Plenary speakers include Sidney Gauthreaux, Jane Brockmann, and Jaff Galef. Information: Lee Drickamer, Local Host, Dept. of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL., 62901. Tel: (618) 536-2314. Email:, WWW:

INTECOL: VII International Congress of Ecology. Florence, Italy. 19-25 July. Information: Almo Farina, INTECOL Vice President, Secretariat VII International Congress of Ecology, Lunigiana Museum of Natural History, Fortezza della Brunella, 54011 Aulla, Italy. Tel: +39-187-400252. Fax: +39-187-420727. Email: WWW:

*Foraging/98: An International Conference on Animal Foraging Behavior, Santa Cruz, CA, USA , 21-24 July. Email: WWW:

*11th International Bat Research Conference. Brasilia, Brazil. 2-6 August. Information: Email: <>. WWW: 2nd International Conference on the Comparative Biology of the Monocotyledons and 3rd International Symposium on Grass Systematics and Evolution-Monocots II. Sydney, Australia, 27 September-7 October. Information: Mrs. Karen Wilson, Royal Botanical Gardens, Mrs. Macquaries Rd., Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia. Fax: +61-2-9252-7231. Email: WWW:

*Making Connections: International Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration. Austin, Texas, 28-30 September. The 1998 International SER Conference will call attention to shared backgrounds and concerns for the land that forms the basis for fruitful interaction. The conference will include a variety of pre- conference field trips and New Academy Workshops. Information: Society for Ecological Restoration, 1207 Seminole Highway, Suite B, Madison, WI 53711. Tel: (608) 262-9547. Fax: (608) 265-8557. Email:
Managing Human-Impacted Systems. Joint annual meeting of Association for Tropical Biology, Ecological Society of America, and American Institute of Biological Sciences. Baltimore, Maryland USA. 2-6 August. Information: ATB: or Email:; AIBS: or Marilynn Maury, AIBS Meetings Director. Tel: (703) 834-0812 x203; Fax: (703) 834- 1160; ESA:

*Global Biodiversity Forum. Montreal, Canada, 7-11 September. The Land and Agriculture Policy Centre, Email:

*Advances in Physiological Plant Ecology, British Ecological Society Annual Symposium, York, U.K., 7-9 September. Information: BES Office, 26 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW215 2NU, UK. Email:, WWW:

*Fifth International Botanic Gardens Conservation Congress: Plants, People, and Planet Earth, Kristenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa, 14-18 September. Professor Brian J. Huntley, National Botanical Institute, Private Bag X7, Claremont 7735, South Africa. Email:

*The Second William R. and Lenore Mote International Symposium in Fisheries Ecology: Essential Fish Habitat and Marine Reserves, Sarasota, Florida, 4-6 November. Sponsored by the Florida State University/National Marine Fisheries Service Institute for Fishery Resource Ecology. Information: Chuck Jones, Tel: (850) 644-2653; Fax: (850) 644-2589; Email:

*Workshop on Biodiversity and Sustainable Development in Latin America, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 27-28 November. CEDLA Workshop, Keizersgracht 397, Amsterdam, 1016 EK, The Netherlands. Email: carriere@cedla.uva.n.


*Tropical Restoration for the New Millennium. San Juan, Puerto Rico, 23-28 May. Co-sponsored by the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER), the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), and the University of Puerto Rico, and held jointly with the 4th Annual Puerto Rico Forestry Conference. Information: J. Parrotta, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, PO. Box 25000, Rio Piedras, PR 00928-5000, USA. Email:

*Change and Disturbance in Tropical Rain Forest in South East Asia. London, UK. 20-21 January. Information: Science Promotion Section: The Royal Society, 6 Carlton House Terrace, London, UK. SWIY5AG. WWW:

*13th Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. Adelaide, S. Australia. 29 December 1998-4 January 1999. Information: Congress Secretary, Michael Schwarz, School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University of S. Australia, Bedford Park, SA. 5042, Australia. Email: WWW:


Ometepe Biological Field Station: Advanced Primate Behavior and Ecology. Summer 26-day courses located at the field station on Ometepe, an island in Lake Nicaragua. Vertebrates of Lake Nicaragua. 22 June-17 July. Limnology of Lake Nicaragua. 22 June- 17 July. Information: P.O. Box 59-1768, Miami, FL, 33159-1768. Email: WWW:

La Suerte Biological Field Station, Costa Rica: Tropical Herpetology. 22 June-17 July. Diversity, Ecology and Behavior of Neotropical Birds. 20 July-14 Aug. Rainforest Ecology. 22 June-17 July, 20 July-14 Aug. Information: P.O. Box 59-1768, Miami, FL. 33159-1768. Email: WWW:


Postdoctoral Research Associate. Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position to assist in a study of the biodiversity and ecology of Neotropical myxomycetes. This two year position is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and will begin on 15 August at an anticipated starting salary of $26,000 per year plus benefits. A Ph.D. in mycology or a related area in the biological sciences is required. Applicants with some expertise in molecular systematics are preferred. The successful candidate will be responsible for carrying out field studies in Central and South America, supervising undergraduate student research projects, and developing and analyzing computer databases. To apply: send letter of application summarizing academic background and research experience, curriculum vitae, copies of university transcripts, and three letters of reference to Dr. Steven L. Stephenson, Department of Biology, Fairmont State College, Fairmont, West Virginia 26554. Tel: (304) 367-4158. Fax: (304) 367-4304, Email:

Funding Opportunities

Seed Grant Announcement. Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force (DAPTF) has succeeded in obtaining funding for a further program of Seed Grants. These awards are intended as one-time awards of between $500 and $2,000 for the support or initiation of research projects which further the DAPTF's mission. Seed grant funds will not normally be provided for personnel costs. Due to donor restrictions, the following funds are available: Seed grants limited to climate change and UVB studies-$12,000. Seed grants limited to climate change and UVB exposure, environmental oestrogens or synergistic studies involving climate change and chemical contaminants-$5,025. Proposals from DAPTF National or Regional Working Group-$5,000. Unrestricted studies-$10,000. Application deadline is 1 July 1998. To apply: succinct proposals of less than 4 pages should be addressed to Professor Tim Halliday, DAPFT, Biology Department, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, United Kingdom. There is no required format, but each proposal should include a description of the intended work, a statement of how the project will fulfill the Task Force objectives, and a budget. The DAPTF objectives can be found on the DAPTF WWW site: Baker/JBtxt.htm. Queries should be directed to John Wilkinson, International DAPTF Coordinator, at the same mailing address as Professor Halliday or via Email:

The Center for Field Research: Field Grants. Proposals are invited for 1998-99 field grants funded by Earthwatch. Earthwatch is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to sponsoring field research and promoting public education in the sciences and humanities. Information: The Center for Field Research, 680 Mt. Auburn St. Watertown, MA 02272. Tel: (617) 926- 8200. Fax: (617) 926-8532. Email: WWW:

1999-2000 Fulbright Awards for US Faculty and Professionals. Opportunities for advanced research in over 125 countries are available to college and university faculty and professionals outside academe. US citizenship and the Ph.D. or comparable professional qualifications required. Deadlines: 1 August 1998 for lecturing and research grants in academic year 1999-2000; 1 May 1998 for distinguished Fulbright chairs in Western Europe and Canada; 1 November 1998 for international education and academic administrator seminars. USIA Fulbright Senior Scholar Program, Council for International Exchange of Scholars, 3007 Tilden Street, NW, Suite 5l, Box GNEWS, Washington DC 20008-33009. Tel: (202) 686-7877; Email (requests for application materials only):; WWW:


Global Overview of Forest Conservation -Version 2. The World Conservation and Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have recently (1997) finished a major analysis of the protection status of the world's forests. The result is an unprecedented amount of data on forest location, by type, and the amount of each forest type protected in each region of the world. The new CD-ROM product contains all the GIS spatial data, files on forests, protected areas and ecological zones that went into the analysis. It also contains a copy of the statistical analysis with tables, figures, maps and discussions. The price (inclusive of mailing cost) for the CD-ROM is: US$ 250 or US$ 225 for educational and non profit institutions. Information: Information Officer, World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0DL, UK. Fax: +44-1223- 277136.

Natural Change and Human Impact in Madagascar. Steven M. Goodman and Bruce D. Patterson (eds.), Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997. ISBN 1-56098-682-4 (hb); 1-56098-683-2 (pb). Papers included in this volume are a result of a 1995 symposium at the Field Museum of Natural History.

Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems. Gretchen C. Daily (ed.), Island Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55963-475-8 (hb); 10-55963-476-6 (pb).