BIOmes of Brasil - Resilience, rEcovery, and Diversity: BIO-RED

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Geography

Abstract

This proposal spans the three largest biomes in Brazil, the Atlantic and Amazon Forests, and Cerrado savanna. Together these cover >85% of Brazil's territory and include many of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, but all have seen large losses in extent. While the value of their vegetation is increasingly recognized it is unclear to what extent these systems can regenerate or resist the increasing environmental stressors associated with climate change, particularly heating & drying. The motivation of BIO-RED is to understand how these changes affect the ability of intact & regenerating ecosystems to deliver societal benefits. This requires addressing these key questions:
(i) How resilient are old-growth & regenerating ecosystems to the key stressors expected from future environmental changes?
(ii) Is the destruction a reversible process on time-scales relevant to human society? Thus, will vegetation recover to a similar state as the original and provide similar services?
(iii) Will the increasingly hot climate affect the recovery of forests and will modified forests be more vulnerable to future environmental change than intact forests?

Answering these questions is only possible with a sound understanding how these systems function and what their sensitivities are. To respond to this need, BIO-RED will apply a multi-scale approach to evaluate the relationships between functions, biodiversity, resilience and regeneration potential in Brazil's three largest biomes in the face of deforestation and climate change threats. Our objectives are to:
(i) Determine the biome-wide relationships between target ecosystem functions and biodiversity based on data from the RAINFOR and associated vegetation census networks;
(ii) Obtain a detailed mechanistic understanding of the link between biogeochemical cycling, plant nutrient use and species composition and diversity in primary and regenerating systems at the local scale in 3 study landscapes;
(iii) Examine tree species' ecophysiological sensitivities to key climate-linked stressors - drought, heat & fire - via real-time monitoring of vegetation functioning and comprehensive trait assessments;
(iv) Develop and apply a UAV ("drone")-based imaging spectroscopy platform to map canopy chemistry and functional diversity at tree, plot & landscape scales, and explore the relationships between ecosystem properties & functional diversity;
(v) Establish the extent to which biome transitions are already occurring, including forest invasion into cerrado, using both permanent plots and satellite-based monitoring.
(vi) Determine the ability of recovering ecosystems and ecosystem management to protect biodiversity & provide key ecosystem services in Brazilian biomes;

BIO-RED builds on existing observational networks all led by PIs of this proposal: RAINFOR, GEM, ForestPlots.net (>500 old-growth forest plots), ECOFOR & BIOTA, and others contributed by Brazilian project partners. Most activities will be focused on 3 focal-landscapes, in W Pará (Amazon forest), E Mato Grosso (cerrado), & E São Paulo (Atlantic forest), each with a complex mosaic of old-growth & regenerating systems that is already well sampled by our plot infrastructure and so ideal for intensive work to probe processes & to scale-up via hyperspectral imaging.

BIO-RED will improve understanding of the extent to which Brazilian forest & savanna are resisting climate extremes, the extent to which destruction is reversible, & the vulnerabilities of intact & modified vegetation to climate extremes. It will identify the factors that control resilience & recovery of biodiversity & provision of key ecosystem services to people. These will be used to inform ecosystem management & policy options such as REDD+, the Brazilian Forest Code, & Brazilian ecosystem recovery plans. We therefore expect to lay a stronger scientific basis for future regeneration & protection of these systems, and so to improve benefits for human society.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research, and how will they benefit?

The national and regional governments of tropical nations within forest and savanna biomes will benefit from greater information relating to the resistance and resilience of these ecosystems to climate change, land-use change and other forms of disturbance. In addition, this information will help them to receive payments for ecosystem services, such as REDD+, opening up new income streams. PES schemes such as REDD+ are most likely to support rural people, who are often some of the poorest members of society in developing countries.

Brazilian federal research agencies such as INPE and EMBRAPA are responsible for monitoring changes in forest cover and ecosystem services. WP4 and WP5 will provide results relevant to the monitoring of Brazilian ecosystems.

The Brazilian federal government, including the ministry of the environment (MMA) and science and technology (MCT), will benefit from WP5, which will help guide appropriate restoration and conservation policies in Brazil, and will assist Brazil if the federal government decides to engage in REDD+.

Developed nations interested in climate change mitigation. Relevant EU counties such as Norway, Germany, the UK and France, whose national governments and other institutions have contributed $1,900M, $783M, $645M and $445M to REDD+ schemes in developing countries. BIO-RED will help these countries invest in lower-risk and cost-effective REDD+ projects that maximise biodiversity and livelihoods co-benefits.

Other key beneficiaries are
* International non-governmental organisations developing strategies to conserve and restore biodiversity, reduce climate change and aid sustainable development (e.g. World Wildlife Fund - WWF, The Nature Conservation - TNC, Conservation International - CI, International Union of Conservation of Nature - IUCN).

* The United Nations, most notably by producing outputs relevant for the Environment Programme (UNEP, and especially the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, WCMC), Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

* The World Bank, via the Global Agricultural Research Partnership (CGIAR), which includes the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

* National NGOs in Brazil (e.g. IIS - International Institute for Sustainability in Rio de Janiero), and those that focus on conservation issues in individual biomes (e.g. SOS Mata Atlantica).

BIO-RED will help all these international and national governmental and non-governmental organisations to develop REDD+ projects that maximise carbon assimilation as well as biodiversity and livelihoods co-benefits. Improvements to monitoring will assist them in tracking changes in ecosystem health and extent. Information on species responses to extreme events, such as heat, drought and fire, will help them predict the future of tropical biomes under different scenarios of climate and land-use change. This in turn provides a powerful tool to exert pressure on governments to adapt and change their policies.

Finally, (1) several Brazilian students involved in BIO-RED will gain training from leading UK scientists, including many transferable skills relating to data management, data analysis and scientific writing, and (2) the Brazilian biome environmental science base will be further strengthened by the development of two new Young Investigators in country, each establishing their own new research team in leading research institutions and each working across the three largest Brazilian biomes.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Secondary forests (SFs) regenerating on previously deforested land account for large, expanding areas of tropical forest cover. Nevertheless, their capacity to regain the biotic attributes of undisturbed primary forests (UPFs) remains poorly understood. The BIO-RED project aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of SF recovery, using extensive tropical biodiversity, biomass, and environmental datasets. We have been collecting data in 59 naturally regenerating SFs and 30 colocated UPFs in the
Exploitation Route These findings can help guide restoration policies in tropical forest nations, and provide insights into what determines the success of passive restoration. They also help refine estimates of carbon uptake by secondary forests, and their role as part of a broader strategy to encourage negative emissions.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description BIO-RED project has established strong links to some of the key stakeholders and policy-makers, including the Brazilian Ministry of Environment. This includes, Joice Ferreira having been part of a working group providing the Brazilian Ministry of Environment with expert advice on natural regeneration across various Brazilian biomes. Joice Ferreira was invited to represent the Amazon region, drawing on the findings of the BIO-RED project from this area. The conclusions of this working group will be used in a planned assessment of regeneration of Brazilian biomes. Over the last two years (2016-2018), BIO-RED partners have also been part of the Advisory committee for the Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE), again representing the Amazon region. We have been also successful in building good relationships with the local stakeholders and communities, and we have presented some of our findings to the indigenous communities from Flona do Tapajos national forest.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Participation in a working group organized by the Brazilian Ministry of Environment
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Joice Ferreira (ECOFOR, BIO-RED) participated in a working group meeting organized by the Brazilian Ministry of Environment. Joice was invited to do an assessment about the potential for natural regeneration across the Brazilian biomes, in particular those in the Brazilian Amazon.
 
Description Participation in the advisory committee for the Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Joice Ferreira participated on the advisory committee for the Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE). Joice was invited to provide expert advice on environmental regeneration in the the Amazon region, drawing on our findings from the ECOFOR and BIO-RED projects.
 
Description Vulnerability of Brazilian Biomes to drought and fire
Amount R$ 200,000 (BRL)
Funding ID 2017/16923-1 
Organisation State University of Campinas 
Sector Academic/University
Country Brazil
Start 02/2018 
End 01/2020
 
Title Application of hyperspectral surveying at Cerrado and Amazon sites: phase 1 
Description Fabien Wagner and colleagues (BIORED WP4, and FAPESP Young Investigator) completed Phase 1 of the complex methodological development needed to successfully use hyperspectral canopy imagery to map species, biogeochemistry, and traits in Brazil's two biggest biomes * acquisition of geolocalisation of 350 trees, to link the crown in the hyperspectral images in long term field RAINFOR and UNEMAT field sites * acquisition of Wordview 2 high resolution images (0.5X0.5m) for all the sites * acquisition of the hyperspectral sensor in January 2016. * building of drone with INPE partners 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The method and research tool is in development, and will be periodically revised and updated during the project 
 
Title Developed Method for Curating Long-Term Monitoring Plots in Complex Dry Forest Vegetation 
Description ForestPlots.net is a tool used to archive, curate, analyse permanent plot data. Dry forests, especially the Caatinga, present a special challenge analytically because they require tracking multstemmed individuals. Thus: (1) different stems (ramets) are not necessarily different individual trees biologically (genets); and (2) each stem (ramet) needs to be measured at multiple points of measurement to enable comparisons with wetter forests (typically measured at H=1.3m) and drier systems such as savannas (often measured at eg H=0.3m); and (3) dry forests in Brazil often have trees. shrubs, and lianas with extremely complex branching patterns and topologies. All these factors complicate field work and data management. During NORDESTE the plot ecological team led by Oliver Phillips and project colleagues at Edinburgh and Leeds together with Ana Carla Aquino as the Brazilian field leader and together with our Brazilian BIO-RED partners, have developed new protocols to capture this information in the field, and new database tools to store, curate, and analyse it at ForestPlots.net. Programming for this was provided by the ForestPlots.net developer, Dr Mark Burkitt. This provides a significant step forward in our capability to monitor dry forests over long periods. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This development is being trialled in NORDESTE currently. During 2018 it will be made available to another NERC project ("SEOSAW", led by Casey Ryan at Edinburgh) to support their databasing of African miombo forests and to the Newton-NERC project partners of the BIO-RED project to support databasing of Cerrado systems, and eventually to all ForestPlots.net users as a 'dry forest' option 
URL https://www.forestplots.net
 
Title Leaf reflection and transmission spectra under varying controlled temperatures 
Description We have developed a chamber which combined with a Licor permits us to measure leaf reflection and absorption spectra under varying temperatures. The idea is to use changes in these spectra as finger-prints of changes in functioning of the leaves, like e.g. changes in proteins. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We find clear signatures in spectra. Nonetheless this is work in progress and thus too early to report conclusions. 
 
Title Leaf temperature measurement - for tropical trees and environments 
Description We built logger and thermocouples / photosynthetically active radiation together which we can attach to leaves. The purpose is to enable to determine leaf temperature regulation and thresholds to functioning in tropical environments where temperature increase rapidly 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This tool has enabled us - and will help in the future - to study in depth thermo-regulation and its controls of leafs / canopies of tropical humid forests - particularly in rapidly warming environments (Brazil, India, South-east Asia). It is one of a range of tools we use to study this question. 
 
Title Tree branch hydraulic conductance measurement device 
Description A simple but very nice tool to measure branch hydraulic conductance. Costs approximately a factor 10-15 lower than commercially available tools. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Tool to investigate hydraulic properties of trees - and in particular hydraulic safety margins - to understand possible future limits of trop[ical tree functioning in a rapidly warming world. 
 
Title Tree sap flow meter 
Description We have developed a tree sap flow meter based on known principles. It includes electronics, control via micro-controller and data-logging. We are currently testing the tool in depth both in the laboratory and on living trees. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The principle is published. The tool we developed entirely ourselves. It is one of the tools which use in projects to determine limits of functioning of trees in increasingly hotter - and in some cases - drier environments. 
 
Title ForestPlots.net 
Description It is ALL FOUR of the options given above (for which I had to choose one) ForestPlots.net provides a unique place for everyone who wants to measure, monitor, and understand the world's forests, and especially the tropical forests. Currently Forest Plots.net tracks more than 1,500 forest plots in 35 countries, recording the work of more than 1,000 people. ForestPlots.net aims to promote science synergies across countries and continents, and enable partners to access, analyse and manage the information from their long-term plots. ForestPlots.net aims to help forest scientists and forest people worldwide, especially in tropical countries. ForestPlots.net includes a web application with a modular design. The front end was developed using Microsoft.net framework and it interacts with a Microsoft SQL server database. The underlying database is a relational database which utilizes more than 50 tables to store plot and individual tree information. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact ForestPlots.net has supported more than 100 research outputs and research products http://www.forestplots.net/en/products http://www.forestplots.net/en/resources ForestPlots.net provides multiple database and analytical tools used by forest researchers and practitioners, especially in the UK and South America. With Newton support (BC Institutional Links and NERC Newton Fund) during 2016, 2017, and 2018 we are extending its use to partners in Amazonas (Brazil), Mato Grosso (Brazil) and to partners in Indonesia. As of 2018, Google Analytics shows there has already been increased uptake in Brazil, where the proportion of active users of ForestPlots has more than doubled from 7 to 15% of all users, and where the number of active sessions analysing Amazon forest data is now ca. 100 per month. 
URL http://www.forestplots.net/
 
Title Recensus data of 17 * 1-ha plots 
Description Between the start of the project and March 2018, our team completed the reensus of 18 1-ha long-term plots in forests and savannas of Mato Grosso. This dataset consists of single, pairs, or larger groups of plots in diverse localities, all recensused with RAINFOR-UNEMAT protocols that involve the collaboration of disadvantaged students we are training. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Our field data collected adds further value to these highly valuable long-term datasets and consolidates all previous forest monitoring research in the area, also bringing multiple partners together. This will facilitate a larger scale data analysis, publications, and other communications over time. Nevertheless it is already clear that a set of plots in Parque Estudal Araguaia in the north east of the state is suffering marked effects of burning on vegetation, including loss of carbon and biodiversity within what is a State Park nominally protected from burning. This is a clear area of conflict between conservation and agriuclturalists accessing the protected area. 
 
Description Collaboration with Ben Hur Marimon and Bia Marimon 
Organisation UNEMAT - Nova Xavantina
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Designed research and trained masters students.
Collaborator Contribution Provided facilities, collected data, analyzed data and trained masters students.
Impact collaboration is ongoing
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with Joice Ferreira, Erika Berenguer, Jos Barlow, Rodrigo Oliveira 
Organisation Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
Country Brazil 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Developing project, supervision of masters student, training
Collaborator Contribution Data collection, analysis and synthesis
Impact No research outcomes yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with Joice Ferreira, Erika Berenguer, Jos Barlow, Rodrigo Oliveira 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing project, supervision of masters student, training
Collaborator Contribution Data collection, analysis and synthesis
Impact No research outcomes yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with Joice Ferreira, Erika Berenguer, Jos Barlow, Rodrigo Oliveira 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing project, supervision of masters student, training
Collaborator Contribution Data collection, analysis and synthesis
Impact No research outcomes yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Partnership with Unicamp and NEPAD Dr. Simone Vieira 
Organisation State University of Campinas
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a new grant by FAPESP to work on ecophysiological attributes in the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado BIO_RED sites. The grant is led by Dr. Simone Vieira and co-led by Dr. Imma Oliveras
Collaborator Contribution They write
Impact Not yet, this collaboration started in February 2020
Start Year 2018
 
Description Presentation at the ECOFOR end-of-project meeting: Oliver Phillips - The Importance of Forest Plots database 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The ECOFOR end-of-project meeting took place in November/ December 2017. It was a great opportunity for the meeting participants to present their findings and discuss future collaborations. Oliver Phillips presented on the importance of the ForestPlots, used by the ECOFOR and BIORED researchers, for effective data storing and sharing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ecofor.hmtf.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/NEWSLETTER19.pdf
 
Description Presentation at the ECOFOR end-of-project meeting: Oliver Phillips - introducing BIO-RED project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The ECOFOR end-of-project meeting took place in November/ December 2017. It was a great opportunity for the meeting participants to present their findings and discuss future collaborations. Oliver Phillips introduced the BIO-RED project and its objective, opening the possibilities for future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ecofor.hmtf.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/NEWSLETTER19.pdf
 
Description Theoretical and practical training in protocols for forest monitoring 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Between 7 and 11 May 2017, the postdoctoral researcher in the PELD project, Dr. Paulo Sérgio Morandi, gave training (practical, and theoretical classes) to 12 students and professors of the campus of UNEMAT in Tangará da Serra, in western Mato Grosso. The main focus was the protocol of forest monitoring developed by RAINFOR (Rede Amazônica de Inventários Florestais), coordinated by Professor Oliver Phillips Amazon-wide, and with Profesora Beatriz Marimon in Mato Grosso. As a direct result of this workshop, progress was made in establishing a new permanent plot for monitoring forest condition and biodiversity in the remaining fragments of forest regionally. This region is one of the most ecologically impacted in Brazil, losing more than 90% of its natural vegetation over the past three decades to agricultural intensification and being vulnerable to climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017