Forests, Water, and Land Use Change across the Central American Isthmus: Mapping the Evidence Base for Terrestrial Holocene Palaeoenvironmental Proxies | Land Portal

Informations sur la ressource

Date of publication: 
janvier 2021
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
LP-midp001623
Copyright details: 
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article

An ever-increasing demand for agriculture while conserving biodiversity, maintaining livelihoods, and providing critical ecosystem services is one of the largest challenges for tropical land management across the Central American Isthmus today. Climatic and anthropogenic drivers threaten to cause changes in the forest cover and composition for this region, and therefore, understanding the dynamics of these systems and their variability across space and through time is important for discerning current and future responses. Such information is of value especially for risk mitigation, planning, and conservation purposes. The understanding of the forests, water, and land use for this region through time is currently limited, yet it is essential for understanding current patterns of change, particularly with reference to: (i) forest fragmentation; (ii) water availability; and (iii) land management. Through the examination of biotic (e.g., pollen, diatoms, and Sporormiella) and abiotic (e.g., δ 18O, CaCO3, and magnetic susceptibility) proxies, extracted from environmental archives, evidence for longer-term environmental changes can be inferred and linked to drivers of change including climate, burning, and human activities. Proxy environmental data from terrestrial depositional archives across the Central American Isthmus were identified and mapped following best practice for systematic evidence synthesis. Results from the evidence base were summarised to show the spatial and temporal extent of the published datasets. A total of 12,474 articles were identified by a comprehensive search in three major bibliographic databases. From these, 425 articles were assessed for relevance at full-text, and 149 fully met inclusion criteria for the review. These articles yielded 648 proxy records in 167 study sites that were mapped on an interactive map with filters to allow full exploration of the evidence base. Just under half of the studies were published in the last decade. Most studies extracted their data from lake sediments, with a focus on moist tropical forests in lowland sites in Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. The largest data gaps in the evidence base are Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador. There are also significant evidence gaps for dry tropical forests, coniferous forests, mangroves, and grasslands. Most of the studies assessed had methodological or presentational limitations that make future meta-analysis difficult and significantly affect the ability to draw conclusions that are helpful for future decision-making. A degree of standardisation, transparency, and repeatability in reporting would be beneficial to harness the findings of the existing evidence base and to shape future research in this geographical area. The systematic map of the evidence base highlights six key review topic areas that could be targeted, if the raw data could be obtained, including: (i) dating uncertainty and standardising reporting; (ii) land use change across space and time; (iii) dispersal pathways of agriculture; (iv) the role and impacts of fire and burning; (v) changes in hydro-climate, water availability, and the risk of tropical storms; and (vi) forest resilience and recovery.

Auteurs et éditeurs

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Harvey, William J.Petrokofsky, GillianStansell, NathanNogué, SandraPetrokofsky, LeoWillis, Katherine J.

Corporate Author(s): 

Forests (ISSN 1999-4907) is an international and cross-disciplinary scholarly journal of forestry and forest ecology. It publishes research papers, short communications and review papers. There is no restriction on the length of the papers. Our aim is to encourage scientists to publish their experimental and theoretical research in as much detail as possible. Full experimental and/or methodical details must be provided for research articles.

There are, in addition, unique features of this journal:

Publisher(s): 

MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-Kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.

Fournisseur de données

MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-Kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.

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