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Modelling road networks in the Amazon

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The Brazilian Amazon contains approximately one third of the world’s remaining rainforest, covering an area of 4.1 million km2. The region is highly biodiverse with 10-20 percent of the planet’s known species, it is also one of the most bioculturally diverse areas in the world, and it provides many valuable ecosystem services. However, the Brazilian Amazon is rapidly undergoing extensive development with widespread land-use conversion.

Road development is often perceived as the initial stage of industrial development, opening access to remote areas for colonisation, agriculture development, resource extraction, and linked with these; deforestation. As such roads are a key spatial determinant of land use conversion in the Amazon region, dictating the spatial pattern of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Given that roads are a key spatial determinant of land use conversion and that they have extensive impacts on rates and patterns of biodiversity loss, it is important that we know how much, how fast and where road networks are developing in this globally important ecosystem. To this end I attempt to quantify the relationship between road networks and bird species richness, and develop a predictive model of road development for the Brazilian Amazon.

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