|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||19 Jan 2005|
For many years, tropical and subtropical forests have been deforested for agriculture, grazing, and timber extraction. Nevertheless in the last decade there has been a dramatic increase in rural-urban migration in many Latin America countries (FAOSTATS 2004), resulting in ecosystems recovery in many areas. This demographic change has direct effects on land use patterns, which, in turn, directly affect loss or conservation of biodiversity.
During the last 20 years, the demographic processes in the province of Misiones, Argentina, have been very dynamic. Misiones is the province with the highest population growth rate (INDEC 2004), and there has been little control or planning related to internal migrations. For example, the populations of the largest cities have increased dramatically due to immigration from rural areas, but other rural areas in the province have been recently colonized. These demographic patterns have important implications for the biodiversity of this region because forest may recover in the areas that are abandoned, while other areas are being deforested as the agricultural frontier expands.
The Atlantic Forest of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay has been reduced to 7.8% of its original distribution, and has been identified as high priority conservation region. This region is one of Conservation International’s Hotspots and one of WWF’s Global 200, and is famous for its high levels of biological diversity and endemic species. The largest remaining area of continuous Atlantic Forest is in the province of Misiones, therefore the demographic and land use dynamics of Misiones play a critical role in the conservation of this region.
The major goal of this study is to understand how demographic and land use dynamics affect the biodiversity in the province of Misiones. Specifically, I will determine how the distribution, diversity and composition of bird, amphibian, and ant communities interact with changes in land use patterns. The response of the different groups of species will depend on their ecological requirements and at what spatial scale they perceive the landscape. This will depend on a species’ ability to move, its specific habitat requirements, and interactions with other species. Birds, amphibians and ants are three groups that differ in these characteristics; therefore I expect that their responses to changes in land use practices will vary greatly among these groups.
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