Aboveground Biodiversity Assessment Working Group


Photo by V. Meadu, ASB.

Humid tropical forests are home to the greatest and most diverse species on Earth. Deforestation and its associated impacts on critical habitats in the tropics, pose a significant threat to biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides.

To better understand this relationship between biodiversity and land use change, ASB's Working Group on Biodiversity conducted research along defined environmental gradients at ASB benchmark sites. The research took place throughout the tropics to analyse and forecast the impact of land use on above- and belowground biodiversity.

Results of this research

ASB scientists used both plant taxonomic and plant functional attributes (PFAs) to assess and predict biophysical response and thus, biodiversity, to land use impact. These response characteristics include:

  1. Richness patterns in certain key plant and animal groups
  2. Above-ground carbon, and
  3. Soil nutrient availability.

By linking these results to agricultural productivity and profitability data, ASB researchers were able to examine the trade-offs that exist between global environmental benefits and the local economic benefits to farmers.

The Working Group's final report assesses the impact of various land uses on biodiversity using a series of land-use gradients from ASB sites in the western Amazon Basin, Thailand, and Indonesia. The report additionally explores the dynamic linkages among biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and productivity for human needs. For the first time, the combined use of plant taxonomic and plant functional attributes (PFAs) has shown marked improvement in the capacity to predict biophysical response, and thus biodiversity, to land use impact.

This working group was active from 1996 - 1999

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