Academic Appointments

Program Affiliations

  • Center for East Asian Studies
  • Center for Latin American Studies

Professional Education

  • PhD, Princeton University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (1994)
  • AB, Harvard University, Anthropology (1984)

2019-20 Courses

All Publications

  • Effects of understory fire management treatments on California Hazelnut, an ecocultural resource of the Karuk and Yurok Indians in the Pacific Northwest FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT Marks-Block, T., Lake, F. K., Curran, L. M. 2019; 450
  • Oil palm land conversion in Para, Brazil, from 2006-2014: evaluating the 2010 Brazilian Sustainable Palm Oil Production Program ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Benami, E., Curran, L. M., Cochrane, M., Venturieri, A., Franco, R., Kneipp, J., Swartos, A. 2018; 13 (3)
  • FIRE-DRIVEN BIOMASS AND PEAT CARBON LOSSES AND POST-FIRE SOIL CO2 EMISSION IN A WEST KALIMANTAN PEATLAND FOREST JOURNAL OF TROPICAL FOREST SCIENCE Astiani, D., Curran, L. M., Burhanuddin, Taherzadeh, M., Mujiman, Hatta, M., Pamungkas, W., Gusmayanti, E. 2018; 30 (4): 570–75
  • First integrative trend analysis for a great ape species in Borneo. Scientific reports Santika, T., Ancrenaz, M., Wilson, K. A., Spehar, S., Abram, N., Banes, G. L., Campbell-Smith, G., Curran, L., d'Arcy, L., Delgado, R. A., Erman, A., Goossens, B., Hartanto, H., Houghton, M., Husson, S. J., Kühl, H. S., Lackman, I., Leiman, A., Llano Sanchez, K., Makinuddin, N., Marshall, A. J., Meididit, A., Mengersen, K., Nurcahyo, A., Odom, K., Panda, A., Prasetyo, D., Rafiastanto, A., Raharjo, S., Ratnasari, D., Russon, A. E., Santana, A. H., Santoso, E., Sapari, I., Sihite, J., Suyoko, A., Tjiu, A., Utami-Atmoko, S. S., van Schaik, C. P., Voigt, M., Wells, J., Wich, S. A., Willems, E. P., Meijaard, E. 2017; 7 (1): 4839


    For many threatened species the rate and drivers of population decline are difficult to assess accurately: species' surveys are typically restricted to small geographic areas, are conducted over short time periods, and employ a wide range of survey protocols. We addressed methodological challenges for assessing change in the abundance of an endangered species. We applied novel methods for integrating field and interview survey data for the critically endangered Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), allowing a deeper understanding of the species' persistence through time. Our analysis revealed that Bornean orangutan populations have declined at a rate of 25% over the last 10 years. Survival rates of the species are lowest in areas with intermediate rainfall, where complex interrelations between soil fertility, agricultural productivity, and human settlement patterns influence persistence. These areas also have highest threats from human-wildlife conflict. Survival rates are further positively associated with forest extent, but are lower in areas where surrounding forest has been recently converted to industrial agriculture. Our study highlights the urgency of determining specific management interventions needed in different locations to counter the trend of decline and its associated drivers.

    View details for PubMedID 28687788

  • Science-based management in decline in the Southern Ocean. Science Brooks, C. M., Crowder, L. B., Curran, L. M., Dunbar, R. B., Ainley, D. G., Dodds, K. J., Gjerde, K. M., Sumaila, U. R. 2016; 354 (6309): 185-187

    View details for PubMedID 27738163

  • Biomass burning drives atmospheric nutrient redistribution within forested peatlands in Borneo ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Ponette-Gonzalez, A. G., Curran, L. M., Pittman, A. M., Carlson, K. M., Steele, B. G., Ratnasari, D., Mujiman, Weathers, K. C. 2016; 11 (8)
  • Managing water services in tropical regions: From land cover proxies to hydrologic fluxes AMBIO Ponette-Gonzalez, A. G., Brauman, K. A., Marin-Spiotta, E., Farley, K. A., Weathers, K. C., Young, K. R., Curran, L. M. 2015; 44 (5): 367-375
  • Assessing the influence of topography and canopy structure on Douglas fir throughfall with LiDAR and empirical data in the Santa Cruz mountains, USA ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT GRIFFITH, K. T., Ponette-Gonzalez, A. G., Curran, L. M., Weathers, K. C. 2015; 187 (5)


    Atmospheric inputs to forest ecosystems vary considerably over small spatial scales due to subtle changes in relief and vegetation structure. Relationships between throughfall fluxes (ions that pass through the canopy in water), topographic and canopy characteristics derived from sub-meter resolution light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and field measurements were compared to test the potential utility of LiDAR in empirical models of atmospheric deposition. From October 2012 to May 2013, we measured bulk (primarily wet) deposition and sulfate-S, chloride (Cl(-)), and nitrate-N fluxes beneath eight clusters of Douglas fir trees differing in size and canopy exposure in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. For all trees sampled, LiDAR data were used to derive canopy surface height, tree height, slope, and canopy curvature, while tree height, diameter (DBH), and leaf area index were measured in the field. Wet season throughfall fluxes to Douglas fir clusters ranged from 1.4 to 3.8 kg S ha(-1), 17-54 kg Cl(-) ha(-1), and 0.2-4 kg N ha(-1). Throughfall S and Cl(-) fluxes were highest under clusters with large trees at topographically exposed sites; net fluxes were 2-18-fold greater underneath exposed/large clusters than all other clusters. LiDAR indices of canopy curvature and height were positively correlated with net sulfate-S fluxes, indicating that small-scale canopy surface features captured by LiDAR influence fog and dry deposition. Although tree diameter was more strongly correlated with net sulfate-S throughfall flux, our data suggest that LiDAR data can be related to empirical measurements of throughfall fluxes to generate robust high-resolution models of atmospheric deposition.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10661-015-4486-6

    View details for PubMedID 25893759

  • Multiple pathways of commodity crop expansion in tropical forest landscapes ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Meyfroidt, P., Carlson, K. M., Fagan, M. E., Gutierrez-Velez, V. H., Macedo, M. N., Curran, L. M., DeFries, R. S., Dyer, G. A., Gibbs, H. K., Lambin, E. F., Morton, D. C., Robiglio, V. 2014; 9 (7)
  • Influence of watershed-climate interactions on stream temperature, sediment yield, and metabolism along a land use intensity gradient in Indonesian Borneo JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-BIOGEOSCIENCES Carlson, K. M., Curran, L. M., Ponette-Gonzalez, A. G., Ratnasari, D., Ruspita, Lisnawati, N., Purwanto, Y., Brauman, K. A., Raymond, P. A. 2014; 119 (6): 1110-1128
  • Refined carbon accounting for oil palm agriculture: disentangling potential contributions of indirect emissions and smallholder farmers CARBON MANAGEMENT Carlson, K. M., Curran, L. M. 2013; 4 (4): 347-349

    View details for DOI 10.4155/CMT.13.39

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322940500001

  • Effects of high-frequency understorey fires on woody plant regeneration in southeastern Amazonian forests PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Balch, J. K., Massad, T. J., Brando, P. M., Nepstad, D. C., Curran, L. M. 2013; 368 (1619)


    Anthropogenic understorey fires affect large areas of tropical forest, yet their effects on woody plant regeneration post-fire remain poorly understood. We examined the effects of repeated experimental fires on woody stem (less than 1 cm at base) mortality, recruitment, species diversity, community similarity and regeneration mode (seed versus sprout) in Mato Grosso, Brazil. From 2004 to 2010, forest plots (50 ha) were burned twice (B2) or five times (B5), and compared with an unburned control (B0). Stem density recovered within a year after the first burn (initial density: 12.4-13.2 stems m(-2)), but after 6 years, increased mortality and decreased regeneration--primarily of seedlings--led to a 63 per cent and 85 per cent reduction in stem density in B2 and B5, respectively. Seedlings and sprouts across plots in 2010 displayed remarkable community similarity owing to shared abundant species. Although the dominant surviving species were similar across plots, a major increase in sprouting occurred--almost three- and fourfold greater in B2 and B5 than in B0. In B5, 29 species disappeared and were replaced by 11 new species often present along fragmented forest edges. By 2010, the annual burn regime created substantial divergence between the seedling community and the initial adult tree community (greater than or equal to 20 cm dbh). Increased droughts and continued anthropogenic ignitions associated with frontier land uses may promote high-frequency fire regimes that may substantially alter regeneration and therefore successional processes.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rstb.2012.0157

    View details for Web of Science ID 000317918900005

    View details for PubMedID 23610167

  • Carbon emissions from forest conversion by Kalimantan oil palm plantations NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Carlson, K. M., Curran, L. M., Asner, G. P., Pittman, A. M., Trigg, S. N., Adeney, J. M. 2013; 3 (3): 283-287
  • Understanding the Impacts of Land-Use Policies on a Threatened Species: Is There a Future for the Bornean Orang-utan? PLOS ONE Wich, S. A., Gaveau, D., Abram, N., Ancrenaz, M., Baccini, A., Brend, S., Curran, L., Delgado, R. A., Erman, A., Fredriksson, G. M., Goossens, B., Husson, S. J., Lackman, I., Marshall, A. J., Naomi, A., Molidena, E., Nardiyono, Nurcahyo, A., Odom, K., Panda, A., Purnomo, Rafiastanto, A., Ratnasari, D., Santana, A. H., Sapari, I., van Schaik, C. P., Sihite, J., Spehar, S., Santoso, E., Suyoko, A., Tiju, A., Usher, G., Atmoko, S. S., Willems, E. P., Meijaard, E. 2012; 7 (11)


    The geographic distribution of Bornean orang-utans and its overlap with existing land-use categories (protected areas, logging and plantation concessions) is a necessary foundation to prioritize conservation planning. Based on an extensive orang-utan survey dataset and a number of environmental variables, we modelled an orang-utan distribution map. The modelled orang-utan distribution map covers 155,106 km(2) (21% of Borneo's landmass) and reveals four distinct distribution areas. The most important environmental predictors are annual rainfall and land cover. The overlap of the orang-utan distribution with land-use categories reveals that only 22% of the distribution lies in protected areas, but that 29% lies in natural forest concessions. A further 19% and 6% occurs in largely undeveloped oil palm and tree plantation concessions, respectively. The remaining 24% of the orang-utan distribution range occurs outside of protected areas and outside of concessions. An estimated 49% of the orang-utan distribution will be lost if all forest outside of protected areas and logging concessions is lost. To avoid this potential decline plantation development in orang-utan habitats must be halted because it infringes on national laws of species protection. Further growth of the plantation sector should be achieved through increasing yields in existing plantations and expansion of new plantations into areas that have already been deforested. To reach this goal a large scale island-wide land-use masterplan is needed that clarifies which possible land uses and managements are allowed in the landscape and provides new standardized strategic conservation policies. Such a process should make much better use of non-market values of ecosystem services of forests such as water provision, flood control, carbon sequestration, and sources of livelihood for rural communities. Presently land use planning is more driven by vested interests and direct and immediate economic gains, rather than by approaches that take into consideration social equity and environmental sustainability.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0049142

    View details for Web of Science ID 000311935800218

    View details for PubMedID 23145100

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3492325

  • Committed carbon emissions, deforestation, and community land conversion from oil palm plantation expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Carlson, K. M., Curran, L. M., Ratnasari, D., Pittman, A. M., Soares-Filho, B. S., Asner, G. P., Trigg, S. N., Gaveau, D. A., Lawrence, D., Rodrigues, H. O. 2012; 109 (19): 7559-7564


    Industrial agricultural plantations are a rapidly increasing yet largely unmeasured source of tropical land cover change. Here, we evaluate impacts of oil palm plantation development on land cover, carbon flux, and agrarian community lands in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. With a spatially explicit land change/carbon bookkeeping model, parameterized using high-resolution satellite time series and informed by socioeconomic surveys, we assess previous and project future plantation expansion under five scenarios. Although fire was the primary proximate cause of 1989-2008 deforestation (93%) and net carbon emissions (69%), by 2007-2008, oil palm directly caused 27% of total and 40% of peatland deforestation. Plantation land sources exhibited distinctive temporal dynamics, comprising 81% forests on mineral soils (1994-2001), shifting to 69% peatlands (2008-2011). Plantation leases reveal vast development potential. In 2008, leases spanned ∼65% of the region, including 62% on peatlands and 59% of community-managed lands, yet <10% of lease area was planted. Projecting business as usual (BAU), by 2020 ∼40% of regional and 35% of community lands are cleared for oil palm, generating 26% of net carbon emissions. Intact forest cover declines to 4%, and the proportion of emissions sourced from peatlands increases 38%. Prohibiting intact and logged forest and peatland conversion to oil palm reduces emissions only 4% below BAU, because of continued uncontrolled fire. Protecting logged forests achieves greater carbon emissions reductions (21%) than protecting intact forests alone (9%) and is critical for mitigating carbon emissions. Extensive allocated leases constrain land management options, requiring trade-offs among oil palm production, carbon emissions mitigation, and maintaining community landholdings.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1200452109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000304090600085

    View details for PubMedID 22523241

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3358834

  • Examining protected area effectiveness in Sumatra: importance of regulations governing unprotected lands CONSERVATION LETTERS Gaveau, D. L., Curran, L. M., Paoli, G. D., Carlson, K. M., WELLS, P., Besse-Rimba, A., Ratnasari, D., Leader-Williams, N. 2012; 5 (2): 142-148
  • Policy perils of ignoring uncertainty in oil palm research PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Paoli, G. D., Carlson, K. M., Hooijer, A., Page, S. E., Curran, L. M., Wells, P. L., Morrison, R., Jauhiainen, J., Pittman, A. M., Gilbert, D., Lawrence, D. 2011; 108 (25): E218-E218

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1105075108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291857500001

    View details for PubMedID 21628587

  • Size, species, and fire behavior predict tree and liana mortality from experimental burns in the Brazilian Amazon FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT Balch, J. K., Nepstad, D. C., Curran, L. M., Brando, P. M., Portela, O., Guilherme, P., Reuning-Scherer, J. D., de Carvalho, O. 2011; 261 (1): 68-77
  • Tropical land-cover change alters biogeochemical inputs to ecosystems in a Mexican montane landscape ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS Ponette-Gonzalez, A. G., Weathers, K. C., Curran, L. M. 2010; 20 (7): 1820-1837


    In tropical regions, the effects of land-cover change on nutrient and pollutant inputs to ecosystems remain poorly documented and may be pronounced, especially in montane areas exposed to elevated atmospheric deposition. We examined atmospheric deposition and canopy interactions of sulfate-sulfur (SO4(2-)-S), chloride (Cl-), and nitrate-nitrogen (NO(3-)-N) in three extensive tropical montane land-cover types: clearings, forest, and coffee agroforest. Bulk and fog deposition to clearings was measured as well as throughfall (water that falls through plant canopies) ion fluxes in seven forest and five coffee sites. Sampling was conducted from 2005 to 2008 across two regions in the Sierra Madre Oriental, Veracruz, Mexico. Annual throughfall fluxes to forest and coffee sites ranged over 6-27 kg SO4(2-)-S/ha, 12-69 kg Cl-/ha, and 2-6 kg NO(3-)-N/ha. Sulfate-S in forest and coffee throughfall was higher or similar to bulk S deposition measured in clearings. Throughfall Cl- inputs, however, were consistently higher than Cl- amounts deposited to cleared areas, with net Cl- fluxes enhanced in evergreen coffee relative to semi-deciduous forest plots. Compared to bulk nitrate-N deposition, forest and coffee canopies retained 1-4 kg NO(3-)-N/ha annually, reducing NO(3-)-N inputs to soils. Overall, throughfall fluxes were similar to values reported for Neotropical sites influenced by anthropogenic emissions, while bulk S and N deposition were nine- and eightfold greater, respectively, than background wet deposition rates for remote tropical areas. Our results demonstrate that land-cover type significantly alters the magnitude and spatial distribution of atmospheric inputs to tropical ecosystems, primarily through canopy-induced changes in fog and dry deposition. However, we found that land cover interacts with topography and climate in significant ways to produce spatially heterogeneous patterns of anion fluxes, and that these factors can converge to create deposition hotspots. For land managers, this finding suggests that there is potential to identify species and ecosystems at risk of excess and increasing deposition in montane watersheds undergoing rapid transformation. Our data further indicate that montane ecosystems are vulnerable to air pollution impacts in this and similar tropical regions downwind of urban, industrial, and agricultural emission sources.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000282278200005

    View details for PubMedID 21049872

  • Water inputs across a tropical montane landscape in Veracruz, Mexico: synergistic effects of land cover, rain and fog seasonality, and interannual precipitation variability GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Ponette-Gonzalez, A. G., Weathers, K. C., Curran, L. M. 2010; 16 (3): 946-963
  • REDD pilot project scenarios: are costs and benefits altered by spatial scale? ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Carlson, K. M., Curran, L. M. 2009; 4 (3)
  • Negative fire feedback in a transitional forest of southeastern Amazonia GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Balch, J. K., Nepstad, D. C., Brando, P. M., Curran, L. M., Portela, O., de Carvalho, O., Lefebvre, P. 2008; 14 (10): 2276-2287
  • Differential effects of mammalian seed predators on the regeneration of five Papua New Guinean tree species and implications for sapling recruitment JOURNAL OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY Jones, E. R., Curran, L. M., Wright, D. D., Mack, A. L. 2008; 24: 259-267
  • Soil nutrients affect spatial patterns of aboveground biomass and emergent tree density in southwestern Borneo OECOLOGIA Paoli, G. D., Curran, L. M., Slik, J. W. 2008; 155 (2): 287-299


    Studies on the relationship between soil fertility and aboveground biomass in lowland tropical forests have yielded conflicting results, reporting positive, negative and no effect of soil nutrients on aboveground biomass. Here, we quantify the impact of soil variation on the stand structure of mature Bornean forest throughout a lowland watershed (8-196 m a.s.l.) with uniform climate and heterogeneous soils. Categorical and bivariate methods were used to quantify the effects of (1) parent material differing in nutrient content (alluvium > sedimentary > granite) and (2) 27 soil parameters on tree density, size distribution, basal area and aboveground biomass. Trees > or =10 cm (diameter at breast height, dbh) were enumerated in 30 (0.16 ha) plots (sample area = 4.8 ha). Six soil samples (0-20 cm) per plot were analyzed for physiochemical properties. Aboveground biomass was estimated using allometric equations. Across all plots, stem density averaged 521 +/- 13 stems ha(-1), basal area 39.6 +/- 1.4 m(2) ha(-1) and aboveground biomass 518 +/- 28 Mg ha(-1) (mean +/- SE). Adjusted forest-wide aboveground biomass to account for apparent overestimation of large tree density (based on 69 0.3-ha transects; sample area = 20.7 ha) was 430 +/- 25 Mg ha(-1). Stand structure did not vary significantly among substrates, but it did show a clear trend toward larger stature on nutrient-rich alluvium, with a higher density and larger maximum size of emergent trees. Across all plots, surface soil phosphorus (P), potassium, magnesium and percentage sand content were significantly related to stem density and/or aboveground biomass (R (Pearson) = 0.368-0.416). In multiple linear regression, extractable P and percentage sand combined explained 31% of the aboveground biomass variance. Regression analyses on size classes showed that the abundance of emergent trees >120 cm dbh was positively related to soil P and exchangeable bases, whereas trees 60-90 cm dbh were negatively related to these factors. Soil fertility thus had a significant effect on both total aboveground biomass and its distribution among size classes.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00442-007-0906-9

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253215900008

    View details for PubMedID 18038155

  • Negative fire feedback in a transitional forest of southern Amazonia Global Change Biology Balch, J. K., Nepstad, D. C., Brando, P. M., Curran, L. M., Portela, O., de Carvalho, Jr, O., Lefebvre, P. 2008; 14: 2276-2287
  • Soil nutrients affect spatial patterns of above ground biomass and canopy tree abundance throughout a Bornean landscape Oecologia Paoli, G. D., Curran, L. M., Slik, J. W. 2008; 155: 287-299
  • White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) alter herbaceous species richness in the Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan, USA AMERICAN MIDLAND NATURALIST Holmes, S. A., Curran, L. M., Hall, K. R. 2008; 159 (1): 83-97
  • Beyond mast-fruiting events: Community asynchrony and individual dormancy dominate woody plant reproductive behavior across seven Bornean forest types CURRENT SCIENCE Cannon, C. H., Curran, L. M., Marshall, A. J., Leighton, M. 2007; 93 (11): 1558-1566
  • Long-term reproductive behaviour of woody plants across seven Bornean forest types in the Gunung Palung National Park (Indonesia): suprannual synchrony, temporal productivity and fruiting diversity ECOLOGY LETTERS Cannon, C. H., Curran, L. M., Marshall, A. J., Leighton, M. 2007; 10 (10): 956-969


    For 68 months, we observed the reproductive behaviour of 7288 woody plants (172 figs, 1457 climbers and 5659 trees) spanning major soil and elevational gradients. Two 2-3 month community-wide supra-annual fruiting events were synchronized across five forest types, coinciding with ENSO events. At least 27 genera in 24 families restricted their reproduction to these events, which involved a substantial proportion of tree diversity (> 80% of phylogenetic diversity). During these events, mean reproductive levels (8.5%) represented an almost four-fold increase compared with other months. These patterns indicate a strong behavioural advantage to this unusual reproductive behaviour. Montane forest experienced a single, separate fruiting peak while the peat swamp forest did not participate. Excluding these events, no temporal reproductive pattern was detectable, at either the landscape or forest type. These phenological patterns have major implications for the conservation of frugivore communities, with montane and swamp forests acting as 'keystone' forests.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01089.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249275900012

    View details for PubMedID 17845296

  • Environment. Tropical forests and climate policy. Science Gullison, R. E., Frumhoff, P. C., Canadell, J. G., Field, C. B., Nepstad, D. C., Hayhoe, K., Avissar, R., Curran, L. M., Friedlingstein, P., Jones, C. D., Nobre, C. 2007; 316 (5827): 985-986

    View details for PubMedID 17495140

  • Soil nutrients limit fine litter production and tree growth in mature lowland forest of Southwestern Borneo ECOSYSTEMS Paoli, G. D., Curran, L. M. 2007; 10 (3): 503-518
  • Long-term reproductive behavior of woody plants across seven Bornean forest types in the Gunung Palung National Park (Indonesia): supra-annual synchrony, temporal productivity and fruiting diversity Ecology Letters Cannon, C. H., Curran, L. M., Marshall, A. J., Leighton, M. 2007; 10: 956-969
  • Biodiversity and human livelihood crises in the Malay archipelago CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Sodhi, N. S., Brooks, T. M., Koh, L. P., Acciaioli, G., Erb, M., Tan, A. K., Curran, L. M., Brosius, P., Lee, T. M., Patlis, J. M., Gumal, M., Lee, R. J. 2006; 20 (6): 1811-1813
  • Effects of partial throughfall exclusion on the phenology of Coussarea racemosa (Rubiaceae) in an east-central Amazon rainforest OECOLOGIA Brando, P., Ray, D., Nepstad, D., Cardinot, G., Curran, L. M., Oliveira, R. 2006; 150 (2): 181-189


    Severe droughts may alter the reproductive phenology of tropical tree species, but our understanding of these effects has been hampered by confounded variation in drought, light and other factors during natural drought events. We used a large-scale experimental reduction of throughfall in an eastern-central Amazon forest to study the phenological response to drought of an abundant subcanopy tree, Coussarea racemosa. We hypothesized that drought would alter the production and the timing of reproduction, as well as the number of viable fruits. The study system comprised two 1-ha plots in the Tapajos National Forest, Para, Brazil: a dry plot where 50% of incoming precipitation (80% throughfall) was diverted from the soil during the six-month wet season beginning in January 2000, and a wet plot that received natural rainfall inputs. Fruit production of C. racemosa was quantified every 15 days using 100 litter traps (0.5 m(2)) in each plot. The production of new leaves and flowers was recorded monthly for C. racemosa individuals. Soil water, pre-dawn leaf water potential and solar radiation were measured to help interpret phenological patterns. Over the approximately 3.5-year period (April 2000 through December 2003), total fruit production remained similar between plots, declining by 12%. In 2003, production was four times higher in both plots than in previous years. In the dry plot, fruit fall shifted 40 and 60 days later into the dry season in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Total fruit fall dry mass production was variable across the study period. Foliage and flower production coincided with peak irradiance early in the dry season until delays in flowering appeared in the dry plot in 2002 and 2003. Plant water stress, through its influence on leaf developmental processes and, perhaps, inhibition of photosynthesis, appears to have altered both the timing of fruit fall and the quality and number of seeds produced.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00442-006-0507-z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000241400800001

    View details for PubMedID 16955290

  • Plant recruitment bottlenecks in temperate forest fragments: seed limitation and insect herbivory PLANT ECOLOGY McEuen, A. B., Curran, L. M. 2006; 184 (2): 297-309
  • Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin NATURE Soares, B. S., Nepstad, D. C., Curran, L. M., Cerqueira, G. C., Garcia, R. A., Ramos, C. A., Voll, E., McDonald, A., Lefebvre, P., Schlesinger, P. 2006; 440 (7083): 520-523


    Expansion of the cattle and soy industries in the Amazon basin has increased deforestation rates and will soon push all-weather highways into the region's core. In the face of this growing pressure, a comprehensive conservation strategy for the Amazon basin should protect its watersheds, the full range of species and ecosystem diversity, and the stability of regional climates. Here we report that protected areas in the Amazon basin--the central feature of prevailing conservation approaches--are an important but insufficient component of this strategy, based on policy-sensitive simulations of future deforestation. By 2050, current trends in agricultural expansion will eliminate a total of 40% of Amazon forests, including at least two-thirds of the forest cover of six major watersheds and 12 ecoregions, releasing 32 +/- 8 Pg of carbon to the atmosphere. One-quarter of the 382 mammalian species examined will lose more than 40% of the forest within their Amazon ranges. Although an expanded and enforced network of protected areas could avoid as much as one-third of this projected forest loss, conservation on private lands is also essential. Expanding market pressures for sound land management and prevention of forest clearing on lands unsuitable for agriculture are critical ingredients of a strategy for comprehensive conservation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature04389

    View details for Web of Science ID 000236176100054

    View details for PubMedID 16554817

  • Village size and forest disturbance in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, western Ghats, India BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION Karanth, K. K., Curran, L. M., Reuning-Scherer, J. D. 2006; 128 (2): 147-157
  • Utility of Landsat 7 satellite data for continued monitoring of forest cover change in protected areas in Southeast Asia SINGAPORE JOURNAL OF TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY Trigg, S. N., Curran, L. M., McDonald, A. K. 2006; 27 (1): 49-66
  • Effects of small rodent and large mammal exclusion on seedling recruitment in Costa Rica BIOTROPICA DeMattia, E. A., Rathcke, B. J., Curran, L. M., Aguilar, R., Vargas, O. 2006; 38 (2): 196-202
  • Soil nutrients and beta diversity in the Bornean Dipterocarpaceae: evidence for niche partitioning by tropical rain forest trees JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY Paoli, G. D., Curran, L. M., Zak, D. R. 2006; 94 (1): 157-170
  • Sustainability science from space: quantifying forest disturbance and land-use dynamics in the Amazon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Curran, L. M., Trigg, S. N. 2006; 103 (34): 12663–64

    View details for PubMedID 16908840

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1568905

  • Tropical deforestation and the Kyoto Protocol CLIMATIC CHANGE Santilli, M., Moutinho, P., Schwartzman, S., Nepstad, D., Curran, L., Nobre, C. 2005; 71 (3): 267-276
  • Phosphorus efficiency of Bornean rain forest productivity: Evidence against the unimodal efficiency hypothesis ECOLOGY Paoli, G. D., Curran, L. M., Zak, D. R. 2005; 86 (6): 1548-1561
  • Effects of small rodents and large mammals on Neotropical seeds ECOLOGY DeMattia, E. A., Curran, L. M., Rathcke, B. J. 2004; 85 (8): 2161-2170
  • Lowland forest loss in protected areas of Indonesian Borneo SCIENCE Curran, L. M., Trigg, S. N., McDonald, A. K., Astiani, D., Hardiono, Y. M., Siregar, P., Caniago, I., Kasischke, E. 2004; 303 (5660): 1000-1003


    The ecology of Bornean rainforests is driven by El Niño-induced droughts that trigger synchronous fruiting among trees and bursts of faunal reproduction that sustain vertebrate populations. However, many of these species- and carbon-rich ecosystems have been destroyed by logging and conversion, which increasingly threaten protected areas. Our satellite, Geographic Information System, and field-based analyses show that from 1985 to 2001, Kalimantan's protected lowland forests declined by more than 56% (>29,000 square kilometers). Even uninhabited frontier parks are logged to supply international markets. "Protected" forests have become increasingly isolated and deforested and their buffer zones degraded. Preserving the ecological integrity of Kalimantan's rainforests requires immediate transnational management.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000188918000042

    View details for PubMedID 14963327

  • Seed dispersal and recruitment limitation across spatial scales in temperate forest fragments ECOLOGY McEuen, A. B., Curran, L. M. 2004; 85 (2): 507-518
  • More than black and white: a new genus of nanophyrine seed predators of Dipterocarpaceae and a review of Meregallia Alonso-Zarazaga (Coleoptera : Curculionoidea : Nanophyidae) JOURNAL OF NATURAL HISTORY Lyal, C. H., Curran, L. M. 2003; 37 (1): 57-105
  • "Can we defy nature's end?" (vol 293, pg 2207, 2001) SCIENCE Pimm, S. L. 2001; 294 (5543): 788-788
  • Environment - Can we defy nature's end? SCIENCE Pimm, S. L., Ayres, M., Balmford, A., Branch, G., Brandon, K., Brooks, T., Bustamante, R., Costanza, R., Cowling, R., Curran, L. M., Dobson, A., Farber, S., Da Fonseca, G. A., Gascon, C., Kitching, R., McNeely, J., Lovejoy, T., Mittermeier, R. A., Myers, N., Patz, J. A., Raffle, B., Rapport, D., Raven, P., Roberts, C., Rodriguez, J. P., Rylands, A. B., Tucker, C., Safina, C., Samper, C., Stiassny, M. L., Supriatna, J., Hall, D. H., Wilcove, D. 2001; 293 (5538): 2207-2208

    View details for Web of Science ID 000171139400024

    View details for PubMedID 11567124

  • Seed-feeding beetles of the weevil tribe Mecysolobini (Insecta : Coleoptera : Curculionidae) developing in seeds of trees in the Dipterocarpaceae JOURNAL OF NATURAL HISTORY Lyal, C. H., Curran, L. M. 2000; 34 (9): 1743-1847
  • Vertebrate responses to spatiotemporal variation in seed production of mast-fruiting dipterocarpaceae ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS Curran, L. M., Leighton, M. 2000; 70 (1): 101-128
  • Experimental tests of the spatiotemporal scale of seed predation in mast-fruiting Dipterocarpaceae ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS Curran, L. M., Webb, C. O. 2000; 70 (1): 129-148
  • Impact of El Nino and logging on canopy tree recruitment in Borneo SCIENCE Curran, L. M., Caniago, I., Paoli, G. D., Astianti, D., Kusneti, M., Leighton, M., Nirarita, C. E., Haeruman, H. 1999; 286 (5447): 2184-2188
  • Impact of El Nino and logging on canopy tree recruitment in borneo Science (New York, N.Y.) Curran, L. M., Caniago, I., Paoli, G. D., Astianti, D., Kusneti, M., Leighton, M., Nirarita, C. E., Haeruman, H. 1999; 286 (5447): 2184–88


    Dipterocarpaceae, the dominant family of Bornean canopy trees, display the unusual reproductive strategy of strict interspecific mast-fruiting. During 1986-99, more than 50 dipterocarp species dispersed seed only within a 1- to 2-month period every 3 to 4 years during El Nino-Southern Oscillation events. Synchronous seed production occurred across extensive areas and was essential for satiating seed predators. Logging of dipterocarps reduced the extent and intensity of these reproductive episodes and exacerbated local El Nino conditions. Viable seed and seedling establishment have declined as a result of climate, logging, and predators. Since 1991, dipterocarps have experienced recruitment failure within a national park, now surrounded by logged forest.

    View details for PubMedID 10591655