Newly Published Journal Articles by Prof Richard Corlett

Prof Richard Corlett in Yunan Province, China

RMBR research affiliate Professor Richard Thomas Corlett published the following journal articles in Biological Conservation.

Reference: Corlett, Richard T. (2011) Climate change in the tropics: The end of the world as we know it? Biological Conservation, DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.11.027.

Abstract: As a broad scientific consensus in support of anthropogenic global warming emerged in the 1980s, a fewbiologists were quick to make predictions of the likely impacts in the tropics. Most conservation biologists, however, saw climate change as a much less immediate threat to tropical terrestrial ecosystems than deforestation, logging, and hunting. There has been a rapid shift in opinion in the last few years, with the widespread recognition that the climate is already changing at a rate that is relevant to current conservation actions in the tropics. Unfortunately, more than a decade of relative neglect of climate change research has left tropical biologists with little hard information on which to plan a response. The most widely used climate projections for the tropics do not represent the full range of model possibilities and do not reflect the current rates of greenhouse gas emission. The 2-3 [1]C rise that is commonly assumed could be 4-6, or even 7 [1]C, while projections for rainfall and other climate variables have still greater uncertainty. These climatic uncertainties are compounded by our ignorance about the potential biological consequences of these changes. It is very likely, however, that the majority of the tropics will soon be subject to climatic conditions that have not existed anywhere on Earth for millions of years. It’s a new world and all bets are off.

Reference: McConkey, Kim. R., S. Prasad, R. T. Corlett, A. Campos-Arceiz, J. F. Brodie, H. Rogers, L. Santamaria (2011) Seed dispersal in changing landscapes. Biological Conservation, 146(2012): 1–13.

Abstract: A growing understanding of the ecology of seed dispersal has so far has little influence on conservation practice, while the needs of conservation practice have had little influence on seed dispersal research. Yet seed dispersal interacts decisively with the major drivers of biodiversity change in the 21st century: habitat fragmentation, overharvesting, biological invasions and climate change. We synthesize current knowledge of the effects these drivers have on seed dispersal to identify research gaps and to show how this information can be used to improve conservation management. The drivers, either individually, or in combination, have changes the quantity, species composition, and spatial pattern of dispersed seeds in the majority of ecosystems worldwide, with inevitable consequences for species survival in a rapidly changing world. The natural history of seed dispersal is now well-understood in a range of landscapes worldwide. Only a few generalizations that have emerged are directly applicable to conservation management, however, because they are frequently confounded by site-specific and species-specific variation. Potentially synergistic interactions between disturbances are likely to exacerbate the negative impacts, but these are rarely investigated. We recommend that the conservation status of functionally unique dispersers be revised and that the conservation target for key seed dispersers should be a populations size that maintains their ecological function, rather than merely the minimum viable population. Based on our analysis of conservation needs, seed dispersal research should be carried out at larger spatial scales in heterogenous landscapes, examining the simultaneous impacts of multiple drivers on community-wide seed dispersal networks.

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