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Combining risk assessment and evolutionary distinctiveness in the conservation of Chamaecrista ser. Coriaceae (Fabaceae) from the Espinhaço Range

Grant number: 19/18627-6
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 09, 2019
Effective date (End): February 08, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany
Principal researcher:Thais Nogales da Costa Vasconcelos
Grantee:Raquel Cruz Pizzardo
Supervisor abroad: Eimear Nic Lughadha
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England  
Associated to the scholarship:18/24601-7 - The challenge to develop conservation policies in a naturally heterogeneous vegetation: the flora of the Espinhaço Range under a climate change scenarium, BP.IC

Abstract

Species extinction risk in response to human activities is increasing. The decline in plant diversity, particularly, is a current concern since plants are essential to provide support systems for all kinds of life. The Espinhaço Range, the study area for this project, is one of the most biodiverse areas of Brazil and comprises the campo rupestre as predominant vegetation, characterized by high endemism and unique floristic composition. Chamaecrista (Fabaceae) is a group of plants that is used as a model system to understand ecology and evolutionary processes in these areas, with both widespread and micro-endemic species, resulting in a gradient of different extinction risk levels. In this context and because of the limitations of IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria, here I propose to incorporate phylogenetic information into conservation prioritisation, measuring species' relative contributions to phylogenetic diversity. Nineteen selected species from Chamaecrista ser. Coriaceae will be used to test two main hypotheses: (1) priority areas for future conservation in the Espinhaço Range will be better demarcated with the inclusion of their evolutionary history; (2) future conservation actions will be different between distinct areas of the Espinhaço Range, in response to the differences in areas of suitability, environmental variables and threatening causes for each portion. To answer these questions, I will implement the Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) method and combine the results with species distribution modelling, producing species richness, extinction risk assessments, ED and EDGE diversity maps, using these data to prioritise important areas for conservation in the Espinhaço Range. (AU)

News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: