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Open Ecosystemsecology and evolution beyond the forest edge$
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William J. Bond

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812456

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812456.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

The future of open ecosystems

The future of open ecosystems

(p.141) Chapter 9 The future of open ecosystems
Open Ecosystems

William J. Bond

Oxford University Press

What is the future of open ecosystems, the ancient savannas, grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands that are the central topic of this book? Their trajectories under current and future climate change are difficult to project since their dominant growth forms are only indirectly determined by climate. Rising CO2 is changing the balance so as to favour trees. Woody encroachment is widespread in open ecosystems globally, though the causes are complex, including fire suppression, changes in herbivore densities and composition, and CO2 effects on plant growth. Increasing drought is promoting large fires in woody fuels. The net effect on forest advance or retreat is uncertain. The biggest threat for untransformed open ecosystems is conversion to forests, whether by invasion of native or alien trees, or afforestation schemes targeting their assumed potential for carbon sequestration. This chapter considers the threats to open ecosystems, the consequences of their loss, and changes in policy and management needed to ensure their future.

Keywords:   big fires, biophysical, carbon sequestration, elevated carbon dioxide, global change, landcover change, woody encroachment

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