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Ecological and economic evaluation of beef cattle on pastures in the Brazilian Cerrado

Grant number: 20/04713-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2021
Effective date (End): June 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Principal researcher:Alessandra Tomaselli Fidelis
Grantee:Mário Guilherme de Biagi Cava
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Millions of hectares of old-growth savannas are being legally converted into pastures for beef production on rural properties in the Brazilian Cerrado. In order to minimize the loss of biodiversity resulting from this process, scientists and decision makers have pointed the need to prioritize livestock production systems that have a low impact on biodiversity. However, there is scarce information regarding the impacts caused by different livestock production systems on the Cerrado biodiversity. Here we will investigate the impacts of different beef production systems on the structure, richness and composition of Cerrado native plant communities. We will sample plant communities in natural pastures (n = 10), pastures planted with low technology (n = 10), and pastures planted with high technology (n = 10), comparing them with each other and with well conserved old-growth savannas (n = 10), protected from grazing, to assess which of these livestock systems potentially maintain native plant communities with structure, richness and composition similar to the conserved old-growth savannas, showing, consequently, less impact on native plant communities in the Cerrado. Furthermore, considering that ranchers commonly select the production system to be used in their rural property based on the financial viability of the system, and not based on the impact that the system causes on biodiversity, decision makers will also need economic information related to these systems, to encourage the use of the one that will potentially show less impact on biodiversity, if such system also presents low financial viability. Thus we will also assess, through bioeconomic models, the financial viability of beef cattle ranching in natural pastures, pastures planted with low technology, and pastures planted with high technology, in order to investigate variations regarding the viability of these different livestock production systems traditionally developed in the Cerrado. The study proposed here will contribute to the project entitled "Optimizing the long-term management of invasive species affecting biodiversity and the rural economy using adaptive management", funded by FAPESP (Grant number 2018 / 14995-8). (AU)

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