Lowland tree loss threatens cloud forests

12:03pm, October 17, 2001

Changes in regional climate brought about by large-scale deforestation in the

eastern lowlands of Central America are affecting weather downwind in the

mountains, imperiling ecosystems there.

The so-called cloud forests of Monteverde lie along the crest of Costa Rica's

Cordillera de Tilarn mountains. These habitats rely on the almost perpetual fog

that forms as moisture-laden Caribbean winds rise up the eastern slopes of the

mountains and pass through altitudes at which clouds condense, says Robert O.

Lawton, an ecologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The humidity in

those breezes is enhanced by moisture expelled from the leaves of lowland forests.

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