Converting Central American tropical forests into agricultural land is changing the color and composition of natural material washing into nearby rivers, making it less likely to decompose before it reaches the ocean, a new Southampton-led study has shown. The flow of dissolved organic material, such as soil, from land to the oceans plays an important role in the global carbon and nutrient cycles. Changing how land is used can alter the type and amount of material being transported, with widespread implications for ecosystems. In this latest study, an international research team set out to learn more about the effects of deforestation on the coastal environment by studying material that flowed into rivers from various settings in a Central American rainforest, tracking its progress into the sea off the coast of Belize, home to the world’s second largest barrier reef.
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