Talk: How only one degree Celsius more already impacts tropical rainforest ecosystems.

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Talk invitation 18 March 2015

You are all invited to a talk by professor Pierre-Michel Forget, tropical forest ecologist, speaking on:

How only one degree Celsius more already impacts tropical rainforest ecosystems.

So far, there are enough evidences, globally distributed, that the planet is warming. How a slight change in mean temperature, rainfall regime and the length of the dry season in the humid tropics may effect food availability and fruit diversity at the community level, thus the livelihood of human being? The consequences of global warming might also be exacerbated in forests that are suffering from anthropogenic activities such as hunting of seed-dispersal frugivores.

Date : 18 March 2015, Wednesday 7.00pm till 8.30 pm

Venue : Alliance Française of Kuala Lumpur, 15 Lorong Gurney, Kuala Lumpur

RSVP : rsvp.afkl@gmail.com

Organisers : The Embassy of France in Malaysia, Malaysian Nature Society, Alliance Française of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia France University Center

Expert’s Biodata

pierre-michel

Prof. Pierre-Michel Forget

Professor of Tropical Ecology

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

Current chair of the Meeting Committee of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Society for Tropical Ecology-gtö. 

Research Interest: Ecology and conservation of tropical forest, seed fate, fruit seasonality and consumption by frugivores and granivores, impact of anthropogenic disturbances on forest diversity and tree recruitment, harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) and sustainable use of forest diversity.

Current research sites: Brazil, Gabon, Guyane (French Guiana), Malaysia, Nigeria, Thailand and Vietnam. He also studied in Australia, Cameroun, Guyana, Mali, Ouganda, Panama and Rwanda.

URL Link

http://mecadev.cnrs.fr/index.php?post/Forget-Pierre-Michel

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Full Abstract

‘Les jeux sont faits. Rien ne va plus’ or How only one degree Celsius more already impacts tropical rainforest ecosystems. 

In the early 50’s, lacking evidence, scientists claiming that climate was changing, albeit warming (e.g. ‘climatic scientists’), would have been declared ‘idiots’, especially after the occurrence of two extreme cold events in 1954-56 in Europe and Northern Africa. Since then, Europe experienced extreme warm temperatures during the 1976 summer, and evidences accumulated, alike atmospheric carbon dioxide that is steadily increasing since the first measurement was taken in 1958 in Hawaii. Following the 1992 Earth Summit and the UN Climate change conferences, a general consensus has now been reached that carbon dioxide emission should be reduced, though the debate is now whether measures taken by Goverments will efficiently limit global warming to below 1.5°C-2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Temperature anomalies should indeed be a major concern for all countries even though few climatic heretics argue on the validity of the emission scenarios by IPCC, and the various expected temperature anomaly increases in 2050-2100.

So far, there are enough evidences (NOAA Source), globally distributed, that the planet is warming. For instance, the year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880, and January 2015 globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 0.77°C above the 20th century average of 12.0°C, the second highest on record for January since records began in 1880. Such warming climate led to the worst floodings or droughts ever recorded world-wide in all continents and regions. Whether we can only witness these catastrophes, we also remain ignorant of the consequences of the increase of one or two degrees Celcius for natural ecosystems and their diversity, henceforth for human beings. This is particularly alarming in the tropical regions located closed to the Equator where the mean annual temperature is around 30°C by day, and vary little within and between years. Such tropical organisms are indeed poorly adapted to recurrent extreme temperatures (> 30°C), and global warming might certainly have detrimental effects on their biology and reproduction.

In Guyane (a French department known as French Guiana), we carried out in 2001-2011 a study to analyze the effect of the local climate on plant phenology and fruit production of a natural Amazonian forest. There, the average temperature (26°C) had already increased by 1.36 °C whereas minimal and maximal temperatures (21.5-30°C) increased by 1.1°C and 1.65°C, respectively, between 1955 and 2009 (METEOFRANCE source). We evaluated variation of seed production for a tree community, and found that species were relatively constant in their timing of seed production across years, though differed in quantity of seed production across years, possibly in relation to variation in local climate and rainfall. For a couple of masting species, however, we observed important differences across years that might be related to an extreme drought that occurred in 2005 in the entire Amazon basin. Such observations may have far-reaching implications for the survival of mammal populations and plant regeneration and diversity, thus the livelihood of human beings inhabiting those tropical forests. I will then discuss how a slight change in mean temperature, rainfall regime and the length of the dry season in the humid tropics may effect food availability and fruit diversity at the community level, thus seed dispersal and tree recruitment. The consequences of global warming might also be exacerbated in forests that are suffering from anthropogenic activities such as hunting of seed-dispersal frugivores.

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