Some Scientists Believe the Amazon Basin is Adapting to Environmental and Man-made Changes

February 16, 2012
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It's no secret that deforestation has been detrimental to the world's rainforests. Advocacy groups and volunteers have been working to put a stop to the industrializing of tropical regions like the Amazon for decades. While these groups have been successful, damage has already been done to the delicate ecological balance.

In a recent study published in Nature magazine, scientists highlight how humans have impacted the rainforests around the Amazon Basin. The report points out that the dry seasons are lasting longer in cleared areas and droughts are growing more common and severe. Scientific American reports that these factors are causing fires and killing trees.

The scientists also found that trees are starting to grow faster, which may be the rainforests' natural defense against deforestation. Droughts and forest fires are thought to contribute to the loss of carbon, and the increase rate of tree growth may be the rainforests' answer to the excessive loss. Accelerated tree growth results in more carbon being taken in by the trees.

One interesting theory that the scientists came up with during their research was whether increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might actually be promoting growth by fertilizing rainforests and protecting them against the decline of rainfall. Lead researcher Eric Davidson, the senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, explained to the news publication that the forests are adapting to accommodate environmental changes, but they may not be able to keep up.

On IE's Amazon River cruise, travelers have a chance to learn first-hand about the wealth of wildlife living along the river and hiding in the rainforest from local, knowledgeable naturalist guides.


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