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Tropical cloud forests – remote habitats that cling to mist-shrouded mountains and tap the moist air for water – are gradually disappearing. This is what a global analysis says that appeared in the magazine “Nature Ecology and Evolution”. This is worrying because cloud forests only take up 0.4 percent of the earth’s land area, but are home to around 15 percent of the world’s biodiversity of birds, mammals, amphibians and tree ferns.

The habitat prediction models incorporate remote sensing data on cloud cover and other conditions to predict the extent of tropical cloud forests around the world. They were created by Dirk Karger from the Federal Research Institute for Forests, Snow and Landscape in Birmensdorf and Walter Jetz from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

The team then examined satellite images of land cover from 2001 to 2018 to determine the rate of loss of cloud forests, and analyzed how that loss would affect 3700 species living in this ecosystem.

The team estimates that more than 15,000 square kilometers of tropical cloud forest – 2.4 percent of the world’s total area – was lost over the 18-year period. Africa and North and South America suffered the greatest losses. The establishment of protected areas could hardly stop the loss of habitat and its biodiversity, which underscores the urgent need for other protection measures.

This article was published originally by spektrum.de

Article source: spektrum.de

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