Areas of land abandonment and agriculture expansion usually differ in location and associated environmental characteristics; thus, land-use redistribution affects the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. In a subtropical region undergoing land redistribution patterns characteristic of Latin America, we estimated 20-year changes in food production, above-ground carbon stocks and soil erosion due to land cover change, and the potential effects of such redistribution of forests on the diversity of birds and mammals. Between 1986 and 2006, despite only 0.3% of net forest cover change, 7% of the total area (ca. 280,000 has) switched between forest and non-forest covers. Food production increased by 46%, while the estimated ecosystem services changed by less than 10%. Forest carbon remained stable, with gains in montane humid forests compensating for losses in lowlands. Modeled soil erosion increased, but sediment accumulation at the watershed bottom remained stable. The responses of birds and mammals to forest redistribution differed and were stronger in birds. Due to the strong responses of birds to forest loss, lowland bird communities might be especially threatened by current land-use trends. Results suggest that land redistribution associated with the adjustment of agriculture towards soils suitable for mechanized agriculture can help mitigate associated losses in ecosystem services and biodiversity, but species and supporting services depending on easily-converted ecosystems require appropriate landscape management practices.
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