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    Author(s): A.E. Lugo
    Date: 2012
    Source: Schlichter, T. and Montes, L., eds. Forests in development: a vital balance. Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Media.
    Publication Series: Book Chapter
    Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    PDF: Download Publication  (248.0 KB)


    Anthropogenic activity is altering the global disturbance regime through such processes as urbanization, deforestation, and climate change. These disturbance events alter the environmental conditions under which organisms live and adapt and trigger succession, thus setting the biota in otiion in both ecological and evolutionary space. The result is the mixing of species from different biogeographic regions and formation of novel communities of plants and animals. In this essay I present the point of view that this mixing and remixing of species is a natural response to the changing condition of the biophysical environment. The assembly of novel ecological systems reflects a healthy biota changing and adapting to acute and chronic anthropogenic disturbances. These anthropogenic disturbances add uncertainty to the state of the environment by inducing directionality and unpredictability to the disturbance regime, as opposed to the cyclic and predictable patterns of historical natural disturbances. If this view is correct, the paradoxes and surprises that are being recorded in the scientific literature should not surprise us nor appear paradoxical. Rather, they reflect normal responses to the uncertainty and magnitude of change of condition generated by anthropogenic activity. The current conditions under which we must manage tropical resources confront us with conumdrums that must be approached with caution. Land managers need to consider their options in terms of cost and opportunities of success when they focus attention and resources on restoring natural conditions that can no longer exist on the planet.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Lugo, A.E. 2012. Conundrums, paradoxes, and surprises: a brave new world of biodiversity conservation. Pages 1-12 in Schlichter, T. and Montes, L., eds. Forests in development: a vital balance. Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Media.


    novel forests, introduced species, species eradication, anthropogenic disturbances

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