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The effects of defaunation on carbon stock in plant functional groups in the Atlantic Forest

Grant number: 19/20905-4
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Master's degree
Effective date (Start): November 04, 2020
Effective date (End): May 03, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Principal Investigator:Mauro Galetti Rodrigues
Grantee:Yuri Silva de Souza
Supervisor abroad: Kenneth James Feeley
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : University of Miami, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:19/05538-5 - Influence of defaunation on the dynamics of tropical plant life forms, BP.MS

Abstract

Rainforests are highly dynamic systems and plant populations with different life strategies are favored or suppressed according to natural or anthropogenic disturbance. One of these disturbances, which is poorly understood, is how the defaunation of large mammals affects the composition and dynamics of plants with distinct life forms. Some studies have suggested that plant functional groups with different growth strategies such as trees, lianas and palms can be favored due to the absence of large mammals. In a defaunation scenario, plants that do not depend on animals to disperse seeds, like some wind-dispersed liana species, can be favored and then be more abundant. This advantage can affect other functional groups, such as trees, decreasing their growth rate, survival and leaf production, which affect biomass production. Therefore, the abundance of lianas can result in a low efficiency in carbon uptake and carbon storage in the forests. Trying to understand these dynamics, our main goal here is analyze how defaunation can affect carbon stock in trees, lianas and palms, plants' functional groups with differences in growth strategies. We will base our analyses in a 10-year mammals' exclusion and not exclusion plot in the Atlantic forest. We will look at the carbon content in seedlings with a range of heights and life form. Overall, we expect to have more carbon in palm trees and trees from the exclusion plots as they are the most abundant groups. Thus, we hope to contribute to the knowledge about the potential effects of mammals defaunation in carbon stock in the Atlantic rainforest.