Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The impacts of forest conversion and degradation on climate resilience in the tropics
Author: Senior, Rebecca A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 1477
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Most terrestrial biodiversity is found in tropical forests. Conservation of these forests is therefore a global priority, which must be reconciled with ongoing land-use and climate change. Tropical species are among the most sensitive to climate change; their persistence in the long-term is dependent on their ability to adapt in situ or move. A crucial unknown is the extent to which these strategies are impeded by land-use change. In this thesis, I first assess how tropical forest conversion and degradation impacts local climate. Using site-level (m-ha) temperature data, I show that tropical forest conversion to farmland results in local warming of 1.6-13.6°C, but this is avoided in degraded forests and below-ground. I then explore the conservation value of degraded forests by considering temperature at finer spatial scales (mm-m), where thermal variation can allow species to avoid suboptimal temperatures. I develop an R package to automate processing of images from FLIR thermal cameras and to calculate metrics of thermal heterogeneity for gridded temperature data. Combining this approach with data from temperature loggers, I compare thermal buffering capacity in the understorey of selectively logged and unlogged forests on Borneo. I find that 9-12 years after intensive selective logging the potential for thermal buffering is similar in logged and unlogged forests. Finally, I consider that even where thermal buffering is feasible, range shifts may be necessary for long-term persistence. Combining global forest cover and climate datasets, I find that 62% of global tropical forest area fails to connect to analogous future climates. In 12 years, connectivity to future climate analogues decreased in 27% of tropical forest area, with losses accelerating as the area of forest loss increased. Put together, my findings suggest that degraded forests can buffer species from climate change, but thermal buffering is severely compromised with conversion to non-forest habitats. To enhance climate resilience of tropical forests there is a need to protect remaining tropical forests and to strategically plan reforestation and forest restoration with climate gradients and connectivity in mind.
Supervisor: Edwards, David P. ; Hill, Jane K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available