As of April 2018, with the project scheduled for completion at the end of May, researchers and students at all three Brazilian partner institutions involved were wrapping up their activities. The PI Dr. Guarino Colli of the Universidade de Brasília (UNB) is currently a visiting scholar at Brigham Young University through August 2018, where he has worked on several manuscripts and a special issue of Biodiversity and Conservation
on the Cerrado. Back in Brazil, his students collected and analyzed lizard ecophysiological and demographic data from Cerrado and transitional areas. They also installed traps for long-term monitoring of amphibian, reptile, and velvet-ant populations and communities at Lajeado State Park (Parque Estadual do Lajeado) in Palmas, Tocantins state.
Co-PIs Dr. Ben Hur Marimon Junior and Dr. Beatriz Marimon at the Universidade do Estado do Mato Grosso (UNEMAT) concluded data collection, preparation, and analysis of the last field experiment on drought resistance of dominant tree species of the Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE) and non-ADE sites at the Amazonia-Cerrado transition. This experiment formed part of the Master’s thesis work of student Eder Carvalho das Neves. The group is now analyzing the results together with functional plant traits and wood anatomy provided by PhD student Norberto Gomes Ribeiro Junior as an attempt to reveal the anatomic indication of drought sensitivity of the main tree species.
At the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, co-PI Dr. Fernanda Werneck and her team worked on taxonomic identification, incorporation of specimens and samples at the INPA Scientific Collections, data organization, and report preparation for material and data collected during fieldwork in late 2017 on the Solimões River and in Campos Amazônicos and Mapinguari National Parks. They also obtained permits and made logistical arrangements for a final field trip to be conducted in late April/May in the RESEX Lower Juruá, Amazonas. Dr. Werneck has had three papers published so far in 2018 directly related to the PEER project, with two more accepted and several more under review.
Several project members and their work have recently been featured in international publications. As one example, Dr. Marimon-Junior and Dr. Marimon worked to integrate this project into an international collaboration with the University of Exeter (UK) in collaboration with the team of Prof. Jose Iriarte and Ted Ronald Feldpausch. The goal was to integrate the PEER ADE sites into a paleo study of Amazonia/Cerrado boundary vegetation during the late Holocene as it related to the expansion of an indigenous people (the Tupi). The joint Brazilian-UK team discovered new sites of indigenous people related to ADE sites in Mato Grosso State and described their findings in a paper in the scientific journal Nature Communication
entitled “Pre-Columbian earth-builders settled along the entire southern rim of the Amazon.” The paper describes for the first time a population estimated between 500,000 to 1 million living along the Amazonia-Cerrado boundary before Columbus, thus challenging the traditional understanding that the Amazon was almost untouched in the past, with only a few indigenous villages scattered in the forest. This publication reached a worldwide audience after being picked up by a wide range of news and online media sources:http://time.com/5218270/amazonian-civilization-discovered-mato-grosso/https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/amazon-jungle-ancient-population-satellite-computer-model/ http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-43584353 https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/27/lost-amazon-villages-uncovered-by-archaeologists https://g1.globo.com/ciencia-e-saude/noticia/cientistas-descobrem-81-aldeias-perdidas-que-podem-recontar-a-historia-da-amazonia.ghtml
On the outreach and policy side, Dr. Colli and his colleagues are collaborating with the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações – MCTIC) and Ministry of Environment, Water Resources, and Legal Amazonia (Ministério do Meio Ambiente, dos Recursos Hídricos e da Amazônia Legal – MMA) on two key objectives. The first is to implement a program aimed at defining priority areas and ecosystems for ecological restoration in Brazil, along with reference systems for different ecosystems and parameters to assess restoration success. The second is to review and relaunch a program (Programa de Pesquisa em Biodiversidade – PPBio) aimed at promoting the development of research, training, and capacity building of human resources and institutional strengthening for biodiversity, in accordance with the National Biodiversity Policy Guidelines. Back to PEER Science Cycle 3 Grants