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The challenge to develop conservation policies in a naturally heterogeneous vegetation: the flora of the Espinhaço Range under a climate change scenarium

Grant number: 18/24601-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2019
Status:Discontinued
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany
Principal Investigator:Thais Nogales da Costa Vasconcelos
Grantee:Raquel Cruz Pizzardo
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):19/18627-6 - Combining risk assessment and evolutionary distinctiveness in the conservation of Chamaecrista ser. coriaceae (Fabaceae) from the Espinhaço Range, BE.EP.IC

Abstract

One of the greatest challenges in conservation sciences is to define areas of priority for efficient preservation of the biodiversity in face of growing anthropic pressure and forecasted climate changes. Due to the intimate relationship between organisms and their physical environment, areas of elevated species richness and endemism levels are particularly prone to biodiversity loss resulting from anthropogenic environmental damage. In this context, the Espinhaço Range, an area of Eastern Brazil harbouring 15% of Brazil's plant species richness in only 0.78% of its territory, is considered a priority for conservation policies. Here we propose to analyse distribution data for twelve indicative plant species from different regions of the Espinhaço Range, aiming to investigate: 1) whether these species occupy a similar niche; 2) the contrast among environmental variables responsible for floristic assemblage of northern and southern sectors of the mountain range; 3) whether climate change will affect the distribution of these species in the same manner; and 4) whether the natural heterogeneity of that ecosystem requires development of specific conservation policies to be effective under future climate change. To answer these questions, we will use distribution data and niche modelling tools (MaxEnt and BioMod) to identify environmental variables that affect the distribution of different indicative species selected. These will be treated as "umbrella species" to support conservation initiatives. We will also test the effectiveness of the current conservation units to preserve this hyperdiverse vegetation under climate change scenarios, when fluctuations in climatic variables are expected to lead to alterations in the distribution of these species.