Forest ecology: Splinters of the Amazon

42_AmazonBy Jeff Tollefson
Nature – Ecologist Thomas Lovejoy tucks his trousers into his socks with a casual warning about chiggers and then hikes off into the Amazon jungle. Shaded by a tall canopy and dense with ferns and underbrush, the old-growth forest looks healthy, but Lovejoy knows better. Three decades ago, the surrounding forest was mowed down and torched as part of a research project, and the effects have spread like a cancer deep into the uncut area. Large trees have perished. The spider monkeys have moved out, as have the army-ant colonies, and many of the birds that depend on them.

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