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Wright et al.: “Pervasive consequences of hunting for tropical forests”

June 04, 2007

Wright et al.: “Pervasive consequences of hunting for tropical forests”

In this special section the authors present articles that address the bushmeat or wild meat crisis, its direct impact on game species, and its indirect impact on plants in tropical forests

“Tropical forests harbor an unmatched diversity of large, charismatic animals. These include birds of paradise, curassows, eagles, fruit pigeons, hornbills, parrots, tinamous, toucans and trumpeters among birds and anteaters, cats, civets, deer, elephants, flying foxes, giant armadillos, okapis, olingos, pangolins, peccaries, primates, sloths, and tapirs among mammals. These and many other large animals have inhabited tropical forests for millions of years, and their ecological interactions with one another, with smaller animals, and with plants help to shape those forests.”

A wide range of human activities threatens many of these species, but hunters who seek out large species for their meat and charismatic species for their hides, ornaments, and supposed medicinal value pose a particularly acute problem. Many species have been extirpated or persist only at greatly reduced abundances in otherwise intact tropical forests, where their ecological roles either go unfilled or are taken over by smaller species.

STRI’s S. Joseph Wright and collaborators Kathryn E. Stoner, Noelle Beckman, Richard T. Corlett, Rodolfo Dirzo, Helene C. Muller-Landau, Gabriela Nuñez-Iturri, Carlos A. Peres and Benjamin C. Wang, edited a special section in the May issue of Biotropica (vol. 39, no. 3): “Pervasive consequences of hunting for tropical forests” gathering 11 articles by STRI authors and colleagues from universities and research centers in Australia, Belgica, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, UK and US.

In this special section the authors present articles that address the bushmeat or wild meat crisis, its direct impact on game species, and its indirect impact on plants in tropical forests. They address both the plight of large, charismatic animals in tropical forests and the consequences for the structure, dynamics, and species composition of tropical forest plant communities.

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