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Vulnerability of Brazilian Biomes to a warming climate

Grant number: 17/16923-1
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: February 01, 2018 - January 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Simone Aparecida Vieira
Grantee:Simone Aparecida Vieira
Home Institution: Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Ambientais (NEPAM). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Immaculada Oliveras Menor

Abstract

More than 85% of the Brazilian area was originally covered by three biomes: the Amazon, the Cerrado and the Atlantic forest, all among the most biodiverse in the world. However, land use changes and deforestation have reduced this area to less than 60%, and much of the remaining vegetated areas sustain secondary and disturbed vegetation rather than primary vegetation. In addition, the climate is warming and drying, and the increasing occurrence of extreme heat and drought is already causing an increase in the flammability of forests. This proposal aims to answer the following questions: How will Brazilian forests change as a result of these stressors? Will undisturbed and regenerating forests respond differently? What is the role of biodiversity in mitigating or increasing their vulnerability to a drier, warmer and more flammable climate? This project is linked to the joint NERC-FAPESP bid Biomes of Brasil - Resilience, Recovery, and Diversity, and focuses on tree-level and species-level responses by sampling a representative range of individuals and species across different vegetation types in order to investigate their role in affecting the ecosystem sensitivity to these abiotic stressors. The project takes a twin-track, complimentary approach to the problem by (a) Compiling a fairly complete description of the properties of ecosystems at the community level in three biomes by sampling functional traits (photosynthetic capacity, hydraulic properties and flammability) for replicated individuals of the species that contribute 80% of ecosystem productivity and biogeochemical cyclingthe biome-characteristic trait distributions will permit prediction of the consequences of warming at the landscape scale. In sum, this YI project will develop critical new understanding of the responses of Brazilian biodiversity to the emerging climate threats, and of the role of composition in modifying ecosystem vulnerability. (AU)