Savannas tend to occur where forest could be supported by current climatic conditions and, in general, both are in contact, being at steady or alternating states. In the Brazilian savanna, cerrado, soil fertility is one of the most important factor determining its physiognomic variation, as well as aluminium toxicity. Therefore, the cerrado plants are expected to have different adaptive mechanisms to deal with the dystrophic environments and to exhibit trait divergence due to intense competition for resource, when compared to forest species. We will study the relationship between mineral nutrition and functional traits in the woody component of both cerrado and seasonal forest. By considering soil nutrient content and plant functional traits along the physiognomic gradient, we expect phosphorus and nitrogen to be key drivers of the functional strategies of the cerrado and the seasonal forest. We are also interested in the response of both cerrado and forest species to different levels of soil nutrients. To study it, we will conduct an experiment with phosphorus and nitrogen addition. Considering that cerrado is threatened by agriculture expansion, and that fertilizer inputs can promote loss of species due to their adaptations to impoverished soils, this study might give us important insights into species strategies of cerrado species to overcome soil constraints, and also into the threats to cerrado areas adjacent to agricultural lands.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: