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The use of landscape ecology tools in a transect section across the Paraiba do Sul Valley, from Serra do Mar to Serra da Mantiqueira, identifying forest fragments along a gradient of human modifications

Grant number: 14/07851-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2014
Effective date (End): May 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Acordo de Cooperação: NERC, UKRI
Principal Investigator:Carlos Alfredo Joly
Grantee:André Luis Casarin Rochelle
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:12/51872-5 - ECOFOR: Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in degraded and recovering Amazonian and Atlantic Forests, AP.BTA.TEM


Tropical Forests hold half of the total stock of carbon in the world's vegetation producing 34% of the total gross primary productivity in terrestrial systems across the planet, which represents the largest contribution to Earths' productivity from a single biome and is more than four times the contribution from boreal and temperate forests combined. At the same time, tropical forests support staggering levels of biodiversity, and are notable hotspots for almost all terrestrial plant and animal groups. They are also highly threatened by human activities with deforestation rates reaching 8-10 Million hectares.yr from 2000-2010. The remaining forests have already been degraded by over-exploitation of timber/non-timber resources, patch isolation and edge-effects, fire and climate change. Yet we still have a limited understanding of how these forests are functioning, whether they are providing critical ecosystem services, and the prospects for long-term biodiversity persistence. Five areas of scientific research are urgently needing to address these knowledge gaps and help inform appropriate management of these ecosystems: i) Impacts on ecosystem functioning, especially cycling of organic matter and nutrients and relationships between biophysical processes, soil, biodiversity and climate; ii) Linking ecosystem functioning and biological traits, where Trait-based approaches will provide insights into the stability and resilience of degraded and regenerating forests; iii) Understanding the generality of ecosystem responses: Can insights into ecosystem functioning derived from one region accurately predict responses in tropical forests in other continents?; iv) Understanding the consequences of human-modification across the whole landscapes and multi spatial scales; and v) Closing the science-policy gap. This project aims to deliver a step-change in our understanding of the consequences of forest degradation and regeneration for biodiversity and associated ecological processes and services in Amazon and Atlantic Forests. We will: 1) establish the first intensive network of long-term monitoring sites along a gradient from intact to severely altered forests in the Brazilian Amazon, and significantly enhance the existing network of modified and intact sites in the Atlantic Forest; 2) complement these intensive-sites with a network of extensive study plots across multiple river catchments in the Amazon and the Atlantic Forest, enabling us to answer questions about changes in biodiversity, functional traits and carbon stocks at the landscape level; and 3) develop an integrated research framework that links the data and process understanding from both intensive and extensive observations of human-modified gradients to multi-scale ecosystem models. The project will be focusing on four types of forest along a disturbance gradient, considering the two predominant degradation processes, selective logging and fires. The Intensive study will be performed in two plots set: Biota program plots in the Serra do Mar State Park, South-eastern Brazilian Atlantic Forest; and Santarém-Belterra region, Amazonian Forest. Within the Amazon forest, we will also make use of two existing permanent plots set in degraded forests to test the generality of our findings in the Santarem region, Acre and Paragominas. The expected results will contribute to the development of meaningful hypotheses about the functional consequences of changes in plant and bird communities, used here as biodiversity surrogates, following human-modification of tropical forests. The project will leave an important legacy, both in knowledge and infrastructure, which will continue to allow improvements in our understanding of HMTFs beyond the end of project, since the studied plots will be converted into long-term monitoring sites across the Amazon and Atlantic Forest. Within this specific call for proposals data and results will also be compared with those of the SAFE Project in Malaysia. (AU)

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