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Bush M.B.,Florida Institute of Technology | Mcmichael C.H.,Florida Institute of Technology | Mcmichael C.H.,University of Amsterdam | Piperno D.R.,Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Biogeography

An important debate has been re-invigorated by new data concerning the size and environmental impacts of human populations in the Amazon Basin during pre-history. Here, we review the history of debates concerning pre-historic human occupation of the Amazon Basin along with the presentation of empirical data from archaeological and palaeoecological research. The combined evidence suggests that human occupation and resulting influence on Amazonian ecosystems were heterogeneous on both regional and local scales. Pre-historic occupation sites are more likely to have been located in forests with a pronounced dry season or in forests that are within 15 km of a river floodplain, rather than in ever-wet forests or in interfluvial regions far removed from large rivers. Forest enrichment of preferred species and game depletion through hunting are most probable within 15 km of an occupation site. Given the spatial and temporal patterning of these data, views of significant Amazonian-wide cultural impacts on riverine and interfluvial forest are not supported at this time. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Gardner T.A.,University of Cambridge | Gardner T.A.,Lancaster University | Ferreira J.,Embrapa Amazonia Oriental | Barlow J.,Lancaster University | And 93 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Science has a critical role to play in guiding more sustainable development trajectories. Here, we present the Sustainable Amazon Network (Rede Amazônia Sustentável, RAS): a multidisciplinary research initiative involving more than 30 partner organizations working to assess both social and ecological dimensions of land-use sustainability in eastern Brazilian Amazonia. The research approach adopted by RAS offers three advantages for addressing land-use sustainability problems: (i) the collection of synchronized and co-located ecological and socioeconomic data across broad gradients of past and present human use; (ii) a nested sampling design to aid comparison of ecological and socioeconomic conditions associated with different land uses across local, landscape and regional scales; and (iii) a strong engagement with a wide variety of actors and non-research institutions. Here, we elaborate on these key features, and identify the ways in which RAS can help in highlighting those problems in most urgent need of attention, and in guiding improvements in land-use sustainability in Amazonia and elsewhere in the tropics. We also discuss some of the practical lessons, limitations and realities faced during the development of the RAS initiative so far. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. Source

de Castro Solar R.R.,Federal University of Vicosa | de Castro Solar R.R.,Lancaster University | Barlow J.,Lancaster University | Ferreira J.,Embrapa Amazonia Oriental | And 16 more authors.
Ecology Letters

Land-cover change and ecosystem degradation may lead to biotic homogenization, yet our understanding of this phenomenon over large spatial scales and different biotic groups remains weak. We used a multi-taxa dataset from 335 sites and 36 heterogeneous landscapes in the Brazilian Amazon to examine the potential for landscape-scale processes to modulate the cumulative effects of local disturbances. Biotic homogenization was high in production areas but much less in disturbed and regenerating forests, where high levels of among-site and among-landscape β-diversity appeared to attenuate species loss at larger scales. We found consistently high levels of β-diversity among landscapes for all land cover classes, providing support for landscape-scale divergence in species composition. Our findings support concerns that β-diversity has been underestimated as a driver of biodiversity change and underscore the importance of maintaining a distributed network of reserves, including remaining areas of undisturbed primary forest, but also disturbed and regenerating forests, to conserve regional biota. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS. Source

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