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Multiscale modelling of the drivers of rainforest boundary dynamics in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia

Banfai, DS, Brook, BW and Bowman, DMJS 2007 , 'Multiscale modelling of the drivers of rainforest boundary dynamics in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia' , Diversity and Distributions, vol. 13, no. 6 , pp. 680-691 , doi:

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Understanding the relative importance of factors driving savanna–forest dynamics
is vital as changes in the extent of tropical forests can have major impacts on global
climate and carbon balance, biodiversity, and human well-being. Comparison of aerial
photographs for 50 rainforest patches in Kakadu National Park had previously
revealed a landscape wide expansion of rainforest boundaries between 1964 and
2004. Here, we used generalized linear and mixed effects models to assess the role of
fire, buffalo impact, and patch characteristics in determining the rate of boundary
change. The analysis was conducted at both the patch scale, and within-patch (plot)
scale, to capture the different processes operating. At the patch scale, the rate of change
was best explained by rainforest type and historical buffalo impact. Fire activity,
patch size, and fragmentation were not important predictors of the rate of change.
At the plot scale, distance from rainforest edge was the most important predictor of
the probability of change, while the fragmentation and aspect of the boundary were
unimportant. Rainforest expansion has occurred through a process of margin extension
rather than eruption of new patches. The rainforest expansion is consistent with
having been driven primarily by shifts in global change phenomena, such as increased
rainfall and atmospheric CO
, rather than changes in disturbance regime. It appears
that the current fire regimes are not sufficiently destructive to limit the overall
expansion of the rainforest patches. Rainforest type and historical buffalo impact
have mediated the rate of change at the patch scale.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Banfai, DS and Brook, BW and Bowman, DMJS
Keywords: Climate change, fire ecology, generalized linear models, tropical rainforest, vegetation dynamics.
Journal or Publication Title: Diversity and Distributions
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN: 1366-9516
DOI / ID Number:
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The original publication is available at

Diversity and Distributions 2007 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

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