The spatio-temporal patterns of leaf production of seasonally dry forests are strongly influenced by climatic factors, especially the amount and distribution of rainfall. The leaf exchange strategies are directly associated to the gas and water exchange, influencing plant carbon uptake and, consequently, the productivity of seasonal biomes such as the Caatinga drylands. The aim of this project is to determine the drivers of leafing patterns of three seasonally dry forests along a moisture gradient associated to rainfall variability. This project will contribute to the understanding of the Caatinga ecosystem processes by uncovering the determinants of plant responses in this extreme environment, and further integrate the leaf phenology as an important component in the modelling of carbon, water and energy fluxes of the Caatinga. This project uses innovative approaches and technologies, such as phenocameras to study phenology, and eddy-covariance towers for the measurement gas and energy fluxes, both at fine temporal scales. Specifically, we will associate biological indicators of flushing and senescence through near-remote phenology, using repeated digital images, with net primary productivity estimates derived from eddy-covariance towers. Importantly, this project is an integrated effort of two interdisciplinary research groups from São Paulo (BR) and Reading (UK) with expertise in phenology, carbon flux, and ecosystem modelling.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: