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Collection, research and conservation of seeds of native species, with a potential for restoration of degraded areas and/or economic uses, in Serra do Mar state Parque (Cunha, Picinguaba and Santa Virgínia) and Bananal Ecological State


Brazilian public policies and international agreements have raised concerns about the conservation and restoration of Atlantic Forest biome and its biodiversity. The deforestation of Atlantic Forest has reached alarming levels, letting many species of microorganisms, animals and plants at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, fragmentation and disturbance. Governmental strategies to deal with this include the establishment of protected areas, native species planting programs aimed at restoration of degraded areas and conservation of forest remnants. Protected areas are fundamental for conservation of natural ecosystems, but the effectiveness of conserving the genetic variability of forest tree species is restricted to the geographical limits of their area of influence. Most of environmental restoration programs are being carried out using seeds and seedlings collected from a small number of matrices, in anthropic areas, and in different eco-regions (far from the degraded local region), compromising the genetic quality of plantations. Seed supply, in terms of quantity, quality and genetic diversity, has received little attention in forest restoration projects, thus, conservation and restoration go in the opposite way. Using seeds of selected trees from well conserved areas is one of the main focus of research of forest genetic resources. The present study aims at collecting, researching and multiplying plant germplasm of native species from the Atlantic Forest, with adequate genetic representativeness. The project will be developed at the Bananal Ecological Station and the Serra do Mar State Park (PESM), in Santa Virgínia, Cunha and Picinguaba Nucleus. Ten naturally occurring species will be selected from Dense Ombrophilous Forest of the four protected areas, according to the following criteria: potential use in restoration programs, economic value, degree of threat (red lists). It is intended to evaluate, mark and monitor (phenological observations) 45 to 60 matrices per species in the four protected areas. During the ripening period of each selected tree, seeds will be individually collected and seedlings will be produced for origin and progeny tests in their initial developing phase. In the future, these seedlings may be used in an ex situ conservation project. Part of the seeds will be sent to the Laboratory of Seed Technology (UFSCar) to germination, drying and storage studies, and to definition of appropriate storage protocols for each species. Leaves or tissue samples will be collected from each selected tree to perform DNA extraction, which might be used in future to genotyping and estimating genetic variability of these populations. In addition, DNA samples from each selected tree will be deposited in DNA banks (UNESP and EMBRAPA) for future studies. The results may contribute to: a) production of seedlings with wide genetic variability to be used in projects to recover degraded areas inside and outside protecte areas; b) determination of a phenological calendar for each species in the four sites; c) improve seed conservation techniques; d) create a database with phenotypic, genetic and other seed information of forest species; and in the future to e) ex situ genetic conservation of genetic diversity of species occurring in the state of São Paulo; f) genetic characterization of natural populations of native species under natural conditions, based on phenotypic characters and molecular markers. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
Defenders of São Paulo’s savannahs and forests 
Los defensores de las praderas y los montes paulistas