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Exploring the risk of savanna expansion in Tropical South America under climate change

Grant number: 16/25086-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2017
Effective date (End): February 29, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Acordo de Cooperação: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Rafael Silva Oliveira
Grantee:Bernardo Monteiro Flores
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Tropical South American landscapes are covered by massive forests and savannas as dominant biomes. Forests are usually found in the wetter regions and savannas in the drier, yet both biomes can co-exist where rainfall conditions are moderate. In the coming decades, climate is projected to become drier in the tropical part of the continent, implying that savannas may expand their range over forested areas. This study will address the risk of savanna expansion, as well as the mechanisms and the regions where such transitions are most likely to happen. It will contribute to a larger thematic research project financed by the program MICROSOFT-FAPESP, entitled "Towards an understanding of tipping points within Tropical South American biomes", which follows a multi-scale framework and is inspired by the theory of dynamical complex systems with alternative attractors. In collaboration with researchers that have a well known expertise in the topic we will add two objectives to the large thematic project. First we ask the question: which mechanisms may drive savanna expansion? We will combine information from remote sensing and field assessments to understand whether savanna expansion can be driven by (a) plant-soil-fire interactions at the local scale, and (b) the relative capacities of forest and savanna trees to disperse at the regional scale. Both approaches will be developed in two regions with contrasting climatic conditions. Second, we will assess how forest resilience varies spatially using two methods: (a) comparing forest recovery after disturbances along a gradient of climatic conditions, and (b) testing if the current distribution of forest and savanna tree species can be explained by the mechanisms identified in the first objective. For this we will use data on tree species abundance from > 1500 field plots across tropical South America. We will also investigate the hypothesis that forests with more species typical of savannas in the tree community may have been savannas in a recent past, implying that if climate becomes drier, these forests may be the first to collapse. Our combination of approaches should reveal how and where savannas are more likely to expand as climatic conditions change, allowing South American societies to manage such risk and its consequences. (AU)

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Scientific publications (9)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
FLORES, BERNARDO M.; DE SA DECHOUM, MICHELE; SCHMIDT, ISABEL B.; HIROTA, MARINA; ABRAHAO, ANNA; VERONA, LARISSA; PECORAL, LUISA L. F.; CURE, MARCIO B.; GILES, ANDRE L.; DE BRITTO COSTA, PATRICIA; et al. Tropical riparian forests in danger from large savanna wildfires. JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY, v. 58, n. 2, . (18/01847-0, 16/25086-3)
TER STEEGE, HANS; HENKEL, TERRY W.; HELAL, NORA; MARIMON, BEATRIZ S.; MARIMON-JUNIOR, BEN HUR; HUTH, ANDREAS; GROENEVELD, JURGEN; SABATIER, DANIEL; COELHO, LUIZ DE SOUZA; LIMA FILHO, DIOGENES DE ANDRADE; et al. Rarity of monodominance in hyperdiverse Amazonian forests. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 9, . (16/25086-3)
CAETANO ANDRADE, VICTOR L.; FLORES, BERNARDO M.; LEVIS, CAROLINA; CLEMENT, CHARLES R.; ROBERTS, PATRICK; SCHONGART, JOCHEN. Growth rings of Brazil nut trees (Bertholletia excelsa) as a living record of historical human disturbance in Central Amazonia. PLoS One, v. 14, n. 4, . (16/25086-3)
TER STEEGE, HANS; PRADO, PAULO I.; DE LIMA, RENATO A. F.; POS, EDWIN; COELHO, LUIZ DE SOUZA; LIMA FILHO, DIOGENES DE ANDRADE; SALOMAO, RAFAEL P.; AMARAL, IEDA LEAO; DE ALMEIDA MATOS, FRANCISCA DIONIZIA; CASTILHO, CAROLINA V.; et al. Biased-corrected richness estimates for the Amazonian tree flora. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 10, n. 1, . (16/25086-3)
FLORES, BERNARDO M.; HOLMGREN, MILENA. White-Sand Savannas Expand at the Core of the Amazon After Forest Wildfires. ECOSYSTEMS, v. 24, n. 7, p. 1624-1637, . (16/25086-3)
FLORES, BERNARDO M.; HOLMGREN, MILENA. White-Sand Savannas Expand at the Core of the Amazon After Forest Wildfires. ECOSYSTEMS, . (16/25086-3)
MATOS, ILAINE S.; FLORES, BERNARDO M.; HIROTA, MARINA; ROSADO, BRUNO H. P.. Critical transitions in rainfall manipulation experiments on grasslands. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, v. 10, n. 5, . (16/25086-3)
LEVIS, CAROLINA; FLORES, BERNARDO M.; MAZZOCHINI, GUILHERME G.; MANHAES, ADRIANA P.; CAMPOS-SILVA, JOAO VITOR; BORGES DE AMORIM, PABLO; PERONI, NIVALDO; HIROTA, MARINA; CLEMENT, CHARLES R.. Help restore Brazil's governance of globally important ecosystem services. NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, v. 4, n. 2, p. 172-173, . (16/25086-3)
STAAL, ARIE; FLORES, BERNARDO M.; AGUIAR, ANA PAULA D.; BOSMANS, JOYCE H. C.; FETZER, INGO; TUINENBURG, OBBE A.. Feedback between drought and deforestation in the Amazon. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, v. 15, n. 4, . (16/25086-3)

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