Affected by human activities as well as climate change, neotropical dry forests are the most threatened tropical forest ecosystem in the world. The effects of deforestation, land use change and warming climates all pose serious threats to these ecosystems, however, to prioritize conservation efforts a scientific frame for comparing threats is necessary.
In attempt to identify the lesser of two evils, authors of this study examined the effects of climate change and deforestation on 17 tree species in southern Ecuador. Using GBIF-mediated species occurrences combined with WorldClim bioclimatic data, they modelled the distribution of all species and used governmental land-use data to estimate areas lost by deforestation.
Consistent for all but one species, the results of their analysis showed that losses in distribution area from deforestation were significantly greater than compared to those resulting from climate change. While the effects of the latter were more severe for some species, the study clearly suggests that deforestation is the more imminent threat to neotropical dry forests.