Tropical grassy biomes: Misunderstood, neglected, and under threat

Catherine L. Parr*, Caroline E R Lehmann, William J. Bond, William A. Hoffmann, Alan N. Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

239 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tropical grassy biomes (TGBs) are globally extensive, provide critical ecosystem services, and influence the earth-atmosphere system. Yet, globally applied biome definitions ignore vegetation characteristics that are critical to their functioning and evolutionary history. Hence, TGB identification is inconsistent and misinterprets the ecological processes governing vegetation structure, with cascading negative consequences for biodiversity. Here, we discuss threats linked to the definition of TGB, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation schemes (REDD+), and enhanced atmospheric CO2, which may facilitate future state shifts. TGB degradation is insidious and less visible than in forested biomes. With human reliance on TGBs and their propensity for woody change, ecology and evolutionary history are fundamental to not only the identification of TGBs, but also their management for future persistence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Biome shift
  • CDM
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Savanna

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