At the beginning of the 1990s, while observing the large trees of the Amazon ceding ground to the scrub-like vegetation of the Cerrado, in a process driven by human activity, Brazilian scientist Carlos Nobre conceived of the hypothesis that a process of savannization of the world’s greatest tropical forest was underway. Thirty years later, a study led by Lílian Sales of the Institute of Biology at the University of Campinas in São Paulo state shows that the phenomenon of savannization goes far beyond the transformation of the Amazon’s vegetation: it could radically modify the territorial distribution of animals and affect the survival of several species, especially those reliant on dense forest vegetation. The study, done in partnership with researchers from São Paulo State University and the University of Miami and published in the journal Global Change Biology, used computer models to project the dispersion of 349 species of mammals living in tropical, Atlantic and savanna forests throughout South America over time. The results show a bleak scenario for some of the species that have evolved to thrive in forests, which may lose up to 50% of their range by the end of the 21st century. This is especially the case in the region known as the Arc of Deforestation, a zone of agricultural expansion in the south and southwest of the Brazilian Amazon, where the rainforest abuts the Cerrado shrubland. The only refuge for these species would be the central area of the Amazon Basin, in areas closer to the…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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