Ranching is an important part of agricultural production in South America.
Although there are more than 40 million hectares of degraded pastures in the region, silvo-pastoral systems can sustainably maintain both an economic activity, and near intact ecosystems and their services.
We here present examples from the Argentine Chaco and the dry forests of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Developed by the IAI Collaborative Research Network for the study of Tropical Dry Forests in the Americas, Editors: Jafet M. Nassar, Jon Paul Rodríguez, Arturo Sánchez-Azofeifa, Theresa Garvin, Mauricio Quesada.
This book was developed as a manual of methods designed specifically for tropical dry forests with emphasis on the topics included in the IAI project, but it has wide application potential, as the global change questions addressed with these methods are similar to other terrestrial ecosystems. The book describes a wide range of methods: ecological (ecosystem structure, soil microbiology, phenology, biotic interactions), remote sensing (spatial information, image processing), and social science (human-ecosystems relationships, socio-economic indicators, and environmental policy). Emphasis is on the dynamics of the systems investigated, so that the analyses provide a picture of the processes of deterioration and/or recovery of heavily disturbed systems. Download PDF
Tropical dry forests are vulnerable under global change.
This map shows trends in productivity of tropical dry forests of the Americas between 1982 and 2006, derived from satellite images. Changes in productivity in these endangered ecosystems are revealed by phenological variables, such as the beginning of leaf flush and the length of the growing season before leaf fall. Results demonstrate that forests in the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia, in some Northern Mexican ecoregions, as well as in the Chaco of Argentina and Bolivia have increased their productivity, while other Mexican regions and the Brazilian Caatinga are losing productivity. Both responses are likely a reaction to global warming, which changes the rainfall and moisture regimes and hence, productivity. (The map is based on a vegetation indicator (NDVI) time series derived from a satellite sensor (MODIS GIMMS AVHRR), processed with TIMESAT, a software for phenological season modeling, and a Mann-Kendall statistical trend analysis.)
Only 40% is left of the original extent of tropical dry forests in the Americas. But only 4.5 % of tropical dry forests (23,417 km2) are currently protected in national parks and biological reserves, mostly in Bolivia and Brazil. Other countries, with large, threatened dry forest areas need to better protect their forests. The maps now available help understanding trends in forest growth, identifying the most vulnerable areas and developing regionally adapted responses.
Preservation efforts for tropical dry forests need to address the forests’ multiple benefits. These include the remarkable biodiversity and important ecosystem services. In addition to parks, other protection schemes such as payments to land owners for avoided deforestation are needed, and sustainable land management in tropical dry forests must be supported with economic and fiscal incentives.
Science Snapshots 8 – The Story
The tropics are much more than ‘just’ rainforests. While rainforests receive much attention for being threatened ecosystems, many tropical dry forest areas are under much greater threat. Their open, park-like character has invited extensive colonization. They are seen by many as non-essential ecosystems that can be transformed into agricultural land at no ecological costs. This attitude should change. Tropical dry forests occupy 42% of the tropical forest area worldwide. Their biodiversity is similar to that of rainforests, and they provide hydrological and climate regulation and carbon storage.
In the Americas, tropical dry forests extend over 520,000 km2. Including forests in other arid and semi-arid environments and savanna ecosystems increases the total area of dry forested ecosystems to about 1,070,000 km2, about 12 per cent of the Amazon forest area. Mexico contains the largest portion (38%) of the neotropical dry forest area, with numerous different dry forest ecoregions. Bolivia and Brazil follow. The size of those forest patches matters, as larger contiguous areas preserve the integrity of species assemblages better. On the other hand, the high fragmentation of dry forests in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Peru represents a higher risk of disturbance and extinction there.
The IAI-supported TROPI-DRY project team, led by Arturo Sánchez-Azofeifa of the University of Alberta, Canada, studied growing season length and productivity in tropical dry forests. Using satellite-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series, they detected statistically significant trends in three phenological variables: length of dry season, length of the growing season, and total productivity. The results show a declining growing season and productivity in some forests, which reduces stand biomass, carbon storage and water retention. This trend may be linked to global warming, and could lead to considerable pressure on water resources for agriculture and tourism in Northeastern Brazil and Southern Mexico. It could also result in more forest fires, desertification, habitat loss and species migration. If land cover changes occur over large areas, this can affect the regional climate because cooling mechanisms such as evapo-transpiration and albedo (reflectance) from vegetation are weakened. Extensive droughts, attributed to this effect, have recently been observed in Mexican tropical dry forest regions.
In contrast, dry forests in Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Northern Mexico showed a longer growing season and increased productivity. This may on first sight seem positive, but the scientists are concerned that higher productivity may invite land users to intensify agriculture and deforestation. Such landuse changes may initiate desertification processes, resulting in the spread of cactus and agave species in former forest areas.
Productivity will be an important aspect to be considered if REDD+ schemes (international agreements to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries) are to be realized. But as these forests provide important ecosystem services, the benefits of protecting tropical dry forests go far beyond carbon sequestration. Multiple forest uses have to be harmonized through ecological payment schemes and sustainable land management if conservation is to be successful. Furthermore, land management outside of reserves and parks needs to become more sustainable, to protect, maintain and enhance ecosystem functioning also in those areas.
Espírito-Santo, M. M., A. C. Sevilha, F. C. Anaya, and colleagues (2009). Sustainability of tropical dry forests: Two case studies in southeastern and central Brazil. Forest Ecology and Management. Vol. 258(6), pages 922-930.
Portillo-Quintero, C. A., and G. A. Sánchez-Azofeifa (2010). Extent and conservation of tropical dry forests in the Americas. Biological Conservation. Vol. 143(1), pages 144-155.
Quesada, M., G.A. Sanchez-Azofeifa, M. Alvares, and colleagues (2009). Succession and management of tropical dry forests: Synthesis and new perspectives. Forest Ecology and Management. Vol. 258(6), pages 1014-1024.
Science Snapshots are intended to inform IAI clients and the interested public about important results of international Global Change research carried out under IAI auspices. Editorial Board: Christopher Martius, Ione Anderson, Paula Richter, Holm Tiessen Design: Shadi Ardalan Cite as: IAI (2011): Gains and losses: Tropical dry forests are vulnerable under global change. Science Snapshots 8 Funded by IAI, NSF under CRN 2021.
Shallow groundwater and agricultural land management in the Pampas
This figure shows annual transpiration rates in the Argentinean Pampas (circles and lines) under two land uses: perennial alfalfa pasture, widespread until the early nineties, and annual wheat-soybean-maize rotations, the dominant land use today. Transpiration rates (right-hand axis) are higher under pastures than under annual crops (1200 vs. 800 mm/year, on average). A 100-year simulation of the depth to the ground water-table under these regimes of evapotranspiration is shown by the bars whose height indicates how often in these 100 years a given groundwater level is reached (frequency on the left-hand axis). The model shows that pastures maintain ground water tables more commonly at greater depths (average -4.4 vs. -2 m) and result in less frequent flooding (2 vs. 47 events).
In the flat landscapes of the Pampas, shallow groundwater can waterlog soils making them unsuitable for crop production. In wet years, it can reach the surface causing floods. When maintained at deeper levels, groundwater acts as a reservoir that supports crop yields even in dry years. The balance between water loss by plant transpiration and its accumulation in shallow groundwater is affected by farming decisions. Understanding water partitioning between plants and groundwater can guide decisions on planting cover crops to manage groundwater. Landscape zoning to exclude vulnerable areas from annual cropping can maximize agricultural benefits from groundwater while minimizing flood risk. Land use decisions need to consider the fate of water in the landscape to improve productivity and benefit from ecosystem services.
Science Snapshots 7 – The Story
The flat sedimentary soils of the Pampas store rainfall surplus of wet years as groundwater. If such surpluses increase, the groundwater table can become so shallow that the land floods. Cyclic floods have taken several years to develop and retreat. The most recent 1997-2003 flood covered 27% of the western Pampas as average groundwater levels rose 2.3 meters, causing great economic loss. This cyclic flooding, which affects 16 million hectares of land, is often attributed to rainfall variations, but a team led by Esteban Jobbágy at the Faculty of Agronomy, University of Buenos Aires, found that land use plays a critical role. Different plants use different amounts of water, and under annual crop production, fields remain bare without any plant water use for part of the year. Deep-rooted, year-round alfalfa keeps soils drier while rotating grain crops let surplus water accumulate. Each crop also has an optimum range of groundwater levels at which it grows best. Outside that range, stress from either drought or water-logging will reduce productivity. As stress from water logging shuts plants down, water use is reduced and flooding becomes even more likely.
In the early nineties, it became more profitable to grow grains than to produce meat. Widespread soybean-wheat-corn rotation, grown year after year, increased flooding frequency and reduced both the number of years and the area suitable for farming. The team therefore explored land use alternatives within a grain production system using a simple simulation model, field observations of groundwater use and depth, and interviews with farmers.
Frequency of waterlogging can be reduced and the number of years suitable for farming increased by 40% by planting pastures or cover crops (alfalfa, ryegrass) tolerant to water-logging during periods of high flood risk. These crops are productive and their transpiration helps keeping the water tables down.
A new, flexible groundwater-based decision making strategy is now being adopted by farmers, accompanied by a collaborative web-based groundwater monitoring initiative (link below). As part of the partnership developed with scientists, farmers provide detailed yield maps and observations of water table.
Aragón R., EG Jobbágy, E. Viglizzo (2010): Surface and groundwater dynamics in the sedimentary plains of the Western Pampas (Argentina). Ecohydrology, online, DOI: 10.1002/eco.149
Nosetto M.D., E.G. Jobbágy, G.A. Sznaider, R.B. Jackson (2009): Reciprocal influence between crops and shallow ground water in sandy landscapes of the Inland Pampas. Field Crops Research, 113: 138-148
Jobbágy E.G., M.D. Nosetto (2008): Como hacer de las napas un aliado. Pautas y criterios para el monitoreo de niveles freáticos en sistemas de producción agrícola en la región pampeana. Revista CREA 328:32-38
2008 – 2011
Funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
Grant: CAD 449,530
Project activities started in March 2008 and were planned to end in September 2010. However, after the workplan was amended the project extended into 2011.
The map shows the overlapping of four NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) variables in La Plata Basin. The color code indicates the importance of the detected changes, from yellow (less important) to brown (more important). White areas represent areas with no significant changes. This map was filtered with a 2×2 majority kernel. Modified from http://lechusa.unsl.edu.ar/?view=hotspots
The La Plata Basin (LPB) is the epicenter of agriculture and ranching in South America. Managed agricultural ecosystems in the basin play a central role in world food production and food security, and are a major source of foreign currency for the countries of the basin. In recent years the basin has experienced land cover and land use conversions at an unprecedented rate and scale. The main trend is the conversion of pasture lands and natural vegetation to arable agriculture. In 2006 the area cropped to soybean and soybean rotations reached 32 million hectares, much of it on former extensive pasture lands. As a result of this expansion and of improved technologies, the region has seen large increases in crop production and is poised to see further growth, but concerns are increasing about the environmental consequences and the resilience of current production systems. The growing tension between multiple and conflicting objectives, coupled with incomplete and uncertain information about valid societal concerns offer opportunities for salient scientific knowledge about complex agro-ecosystems to inform decision-making and policy.
The project goal is to provide guidance to actors and decision makers in the processes of rural development and landuse change. The dynamic interactions between natural and human components of agroecosystems in the LPB are being analyzed to permit the exploration of opportunities offered by increasing global demand for agricultural commodities and biofuels, while minimizing negative impacts of agricultural expansion and intensification, particularly under the risks and opportunities created by climate change. The project links the sciences of climate, landuse and rural socio-economics to:
* conduct research on, document and analyze land-use change in the context of regional climate variations over the past 25 years;
* analyze the social and economic drivers and impacts of this land use change;
* set this research in the context of rural development and markets for industrial crops and biofuels using socio-economic analyses;
* synthesize this knowledge, identify connections between climate, landuse and development patterns, and forecast trends in cooperation with and for the benefit of land users and decision makers;
* provide a gap analysis on institutional, scientific and outreach needs to guide future research and monitoring in the region; and
* strengthen institutional capacities to conduct international, interdisciplinary research and monitoring on landuse change, renewable energy, climate change, and the risks and opportunities for regional rural development.
* To assess the risks and opportunities associated with climate variation and change as they affect rural development, landuse and regional hydrology;
* To assess the links between environmental, economic and social changes in rural development under changeable climate;
* To synthesize and share information to guide decision processes, developing new communication and participation channels among local actors in research and production environments, and developing the networking needed for monitoring of sustainable development and guidance of decision processes;
* To build capacity in participative methods and integrate scientific and local knowledge in the social and natural realms. Provide ground-truthing of remotely sensed and climate information by local actors and communities participating in social and economic assessments;
* To reinforce and expand an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, five-country (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) research network to address the complex interactions between crop production, land use change, rural livelihoods and development, biodiversity, land quality and the key ecosystem service of hydrological regulation which is particularly important in the flood-prone LPB.
* The project will strengthen collaborative networks integrating scientists, policy makers, NGOs, producers and other stakeholders to address current and future information needs. The activities will lay the foundation for an effective research, monitoring and communication agenda for the LPB to facilitate informed decision making in one of world’s most important developing agricultural regions.
Human societies living in the tropical Andes depend in many aspects on the different goods and services provided by ecosystems. The integrity and species diversity of these ecosystems are seriously threatened by climate change and land use changes. Both factors are expected to have profound impacts on the survival, geographic distribution and ecologic interactions of Andean species. This is why new conservation and adaptation strategies are so important in the tropical Andes. This new IAI project, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, has great potential to contribute significantly to vulnerability and adaptation analyses in the region and to the development of new conservation strategies.
Several institutions in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the US participate in the project and work with the IAI in the development of the activities.
Case studies during five years (2011 – 2016) on short- to medium-term climate change trends, biodiversity patterns and gradients and the vulnerability of species and ecosystems to climate and land use changes in two cross-border areas:
a) the Pacific slope of the Northern Andes, in the border region of Colombia (Nariño department) and Ecuador (Carchi province)
b) the Amazonian slope of the Central Andes, in the border region of Bolivia and Peru (protected areas Madidi and Apolobamba in Bolivia, Bahuaja-Sonene and Tambopata in Peru).
To provide tropical Andean countries with a standard methodology for estimating climate change risks for biodiversity at local scales that can be used to design adaptation measures tailored to particular conditions.
This is a summary of the most salient project results. For further information see the project website, project papers or contact the investigators directly.
This project conducts a knowledge synthesis on ecosystem services in tropical dry forest (TDF), using literature and data from previous CRN 2021 and SGP-CRA 2021 projects, models of land use and cover change, and provides knowledge exchange with stakeholders in Costa Rica and Brazil.
Of 531 articles on ecosystem services (1970 to 2015), 47% are related to biodiversity, 26% to carbon, 16% to soils, and only 11 % to water. Studies of biodiversity and carbon focused specifically on provisioning services, studies of water focused on regulating services, and studies of soil focused on supporting services. Information is being integrated using the Dinamica EGO land use change and environmental modeling platform.
Working with IBM analytics to integrate C and water fluxes for the Santa Rosa National Park provided drought prediction tools for Guanacaste, Costa Rica. New wireless sensor networks now monitor cash crops of coffee and sugar cane showing that 80% of the 11,000 coffee farms in Guanacaste were under stress from climate change and the 2014-15 drought.
The wireless sensor network recording intra- and inter-annual variation in forest productivity showed that dry forests recovering from disturbance quickly reestablish their climatic buffer capacity, an important ecosystem service. The canopy-understory climate moderation is related to forest structure and soil properties in addition to light interception. This is important for grazing uses. Forest recovery was aided by remaining fragments of mature and old growth forest in disturbed biomes.
Remote sensing detected intensifying, persistent and new deforestation hotspots on the Southern Pacific coast and Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Northwestern Guatemala, in Honduras and around Lake Nicaragua. TDF are already endangered due to a long history of human disturbances but management will become an even greater challenge as drought severity and frequency increase.
These sites are under the political jurisdiction of local environmental authorities. The team provided information that it is more effective to locate parks and sites for ecosystem service payments distant from each other. High levels of enforcement in parks and lands with payments, and the presence of conservation spillovers that reduce deforestation near parks, significantly reduce the potential impact of combining these two policies.
The largest irrigated perimeter in Latin America, with 100,000 ha is being established in Minas Gerais for large multinational fruit producers. For this, the development banks required compensation through the creation of 5 Conservation Units from which traditional communities were expelled in a land-sparing strategy: the segregation of land for intensive agricultural production and land for untouched nature.
However, traditional communities aim at an opposite land-sharing: environmental-friendly farming with low-intensity production and conservation on the same land. The team mapped the territories of these traditional communities so that they can be expropriated inside farms and CUs, and provided technical information to the Environmental Attorney to transform 5,000 ha of the 25,000 ha CU into a sustainable use regime.
The relationship between people and natural resources in the Caatinga, and biodiversity and preservation, were the subjects of a Workshop that was held at the Univasf campus at Senhor do Bonfim, Bahia.
Ranching is an important part of agricultural production in South America. Although there are more than 40 million hectares of degraded pastures in the region, silvo-pastoral systems can sustainably maintain both an economic activity, and near intact ecosystems and their services. We here present examples from the Argentine Chaco and the dry forests of Minas Gerais, Brazil. This movie is based on the results of the research of this project and climate, water and land-use decisions in the plains of Southern South America (SGP-CRA 2031)
Interview with Arturo Sanchez Azofeifa on tropical dry forest responses to climate change and likely future changes. RTCC – UNFCCC CoP20, Lima, Peru, December 2014
IAI-Environet is a practical solution to climate change challenges. Climate change affects the resilience of dry forest ecosystems. To work towards comprehensive climate change adaptation policies in arid and semi-arid regions of the Americas we need to monitor and understand interactions between forests and their environment. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa (IAI) presents an advanced wireless sensor and analytics system designed to collect and analyze environmental data. The Enviro-Net system is already active in several countries and will be installed in Peru in 2015. November 2014.
Texas Tech University, USA
Juan Andres Robalino
Centro Agronómico de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Costa Rica
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Chile
Adrian Araya, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Alline Mendes Alves, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil Amanda Elisa Marega, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ana Carolina Lima Finoti, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ana Cecilia Pancotti, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ana Julieta Calvo Obando, Master, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica André Rocha, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil Andrea Tapia Arenas, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Andrés Calderín Garcia, PHD, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Brad Danielson, Post Doctorate, University of Alberta, Canada Branko Hilje, PHD, University of Alberta, Costa Rica Camila Pinheiro Nobre, PHD, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Cao Sen, PHD, University of Alberta, China Cassidy Rankine, PHD, University of Alberta, Canada Catalina Sandoval, Master, Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Crystine Skinner, Undergraduate, University of Alberta, Canada David Sanchez, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Diego Roman, Master, CATIE, Costa Rica Domina Harrison, Undergraduate, University of Alberta, Canada Elena Garcia, Undergraduate, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain Elizabeth Jimenez, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Eric Ribeiro Madureira, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil Erick Naranjo Esquivel, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Ezequiel Fallas, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Flávio M. Mota, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil Francy Gonçalves, PHD, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Frederico Almeida Macedo, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil Graciane Siqueira Correa, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Helen Botelho Marota, Master, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Helen Rosa, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil Jing Chen, PHD, University of Alberta Joselandio Correa Santos, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Kayla Stan, Master, University of Alberta, Canada. Kênia Mendes Dias, Master, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kléber de Oliveira Fernandes, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Laura Giovanna Oliveira Lopes, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Lidong Zhu, PHD, University of Alberta, China. Lucas Figueiredo, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Luiz Gilberto Ambrósio de Souza, Master, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marco Túlio Santos Vieira, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Maria Betânia Fonseca, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Maria Fernanda Gonçalves Durães, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Mariajose Esquivel, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica. Mariana Guimarães Dupin, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Mariana Vargas Coto, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica. Maryangel Gonzalez, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica. Mike Hesketh, PHD, University of Alberta, Canada. Norberto Ramirez, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica. Ozorino Neto, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Pablo Ruiz Gimenez, Undergraduate, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain. Patrick Fonseca, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Paulo Augusto Binder D’Angelis, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Riard Porto, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Sael Sánchez Eliaz, PHD, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sandra Duran, PHD, University of Alberta, Colombia. Sarah Freitas Magalhães Silva, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Saulo Castro Contreras, PHD, University of Alberta, Mexico. Shawna Stack, Undergraduate, University of Alberta, Canada Sofia Calvo Rodriguez, Master, University of Alberta, Costa Rica. Thiago Gonçalves Silva, Master, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Vaughn Smith, Undergraduate, Texas Tech University, USA. Virginia Garcia Millan, Post Doctorate, Spain. Wei Li, PHD, University of Alberta, China. Wendy Alvarado, Undergraduate, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Costa Rica. Wesley Silveira Marcelo Soares, Undergraduate, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brazil. Zhujun Gu, Post Doctorate, University of Alberta, China
Tropical Dry Forests (TDFs) are considered one of the most threatened forest ecosystems in the world as a consequence of intensive anthropogenic disturbance. Their fertile soils and mild climates make them highly suitable for conversion to agriculture and livestock. Given their attractive environmental characteristics for human settlement and development, this ecosystem has historically supported extensive deforestation. Despite TDF’s remarkable richness of species (including endemic species), the vital role its ecosystem services provide for extensive and dense populations, and its alarming deforestation rates, a remarkable knowledge gap exists on the ecology, the human and biophysical dimensions of this important ecosystem, particularly in comparison to other tropical forest biomes.
The Tropical Dry Forests network -TROPI-DRY- was created in 2005 under the CRN2 program to better understand TDF ecosystems using ecology, remote sensing, and human dimensions research. During the first phase of TROPI-DRY, emphasis was placed on the first standardized collection of information within Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Venezuela, and Brazil regarding TDF extent, distribution, conservation and biodiversity status, phenological expressions and response to climate change. This process was complemented by an in-depth analysis of drivers of land use/cover change and conservation policies guided by social science findings, in the subsequent SGP-CRA 2021 project.
This next stage of the project is conducted on two main themes:
1) Modeling and forecasting to build on project data collection efforts over the last five years. By shaping that data into a comprehensive and accessible body of knowledge, they can more accurately assess the many functions played by primary and secondary tropical dry forests in the Americas, particularly as ecosystem services providers. This analysis will be conducted at different spatial scales: continental to country to regional level.
2) Outreach and stakeholder support by developing a clear, comprehensive synthesis of environmental degradation trends and the forces that drive these trends in tropical dry forests environments with emphasis on land use/cover change forces and climate change responses.
An inter-comparison of ecosystem services modeling approaches in the context of TDF environments will be used to:
(a) develop a policy based/decision-making synthesis based on knowledge exchange with policy makers, stakeholders and scientists working in TDFs; and
(b) provide an advanced decision making tool – based on modeling and forecasting – that includes information gleaned from policy-maker/stakeholder interaction. Addressing these issues from a multidisciplinary and multinational perspective can assist in building more sound conservation policies in TDF.
This is a summary of the most salient project results. For further information see the project website, project papers or contact the investigators directly.
The project is in the data acquisition stage on ecological and social factors determining insect born disease incidence: in one Amazonian municipality, 180 household questionnaires on land use, socioeconomics and demography, history of environmental or health shocks, and the perceptions of a planned hydroelectric dam in the municipality; and data on all malaria cases were collected from the National Health Foundation office. This database is being integrated into a GIS and linked to a previous 2010 field survey. To provide ecological context, a refined high-resolution classification of land use is implemented using the spatial contexts of pixels, including tree shadows or water, instead of the pixel-by-pixel spectral classification on TM Landsat 5 imagery.
In Peru, data on 313 households are being cleaned: anthropometric measurements on family members, attitudes, satisfaction, vulnerability and security, and hair-mercury levels. This is related to an original 1999 survey of 100 farms which through subdivision now include some 300 households.
In Ecuador, 225 questionnaires of household heads and 178 of spouses were collected for the first time on tablets. It surveyed dengue and leishmaniasis risk, and established links to the ecology of leishmaniasis vectors. Mercury toxicity, emerging chronic disease and neurological assessments of children exposed to mercury were examined by a PhD student of criminal justice. Results from the US team on fish consumption and mercury exposure were provided to the Ministry of Health.
Ahlam Abuawad, Master, University at Albany, USA. Ana Carolina Ferdandes Dias, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Andressa Lopes Rodrigues, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Angela Zhang, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Anthony Saxton, Master, Duke University, USA. Austin Peer, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Axel Berky, Master, Duke University, USA. Caren Weinhouse, PHD, Duke University, USA. Carmen Guzman, Master, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Carolina Sampedro, Master, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Celeste Butts, PHD, University at Albany, USA. Christina Chao, Master, Duke University, USA. Diego Azanedo Vilchez, Undergraduate, Universidad Católica los Ángeles de Chimbote, Peru. Diego Fonseca, Master, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Dominic Lucero, Master, Duke University, USA. Eduardo Rogelio Fernandez, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil. Gabriel Henrique O. Assuncao, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Gabriela Guerra, Other, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Helena Fristak, Master, University of Virginia, Brazil. Hugo Valdivia, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Peru. Jaeok Kim, PHD, University at Albany, USA. Javiera Alarcon, Undergraduate, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Jessica Cain, Master, Duke University, USA. Joao Pedro Samarino, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Jose Luis Aviles Escribens, Doctorate, Universidad Perúana Cayetano Heredia, Peru. Joshua Latner, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Julia Menezes,PHD, Fundacion Oswaldo Cruz, Brazil. Juliana Vasconcelos, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Justin Lana, PHD, Duke University, USA. Laia Muñoz, Master, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Laura Rogers, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Lauren Wyatt, PHD, Duke University, USA. Luz Rodriguez, PHD, Duke University, Colombia. Madison Krischak, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Marcos Maguina, Master, San Marcos University, Peru. Margot Neveaux, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Mariana de Araújo Cunha, Undergraduate, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Michel Bárrios Lopez, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Cuba. Pedro Cisalpino Pinheiro, Master, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Pilar Carolina Ruiz, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Pooja Meeja, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Priyanka Krishnan, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Rafael Andrés Urrego Posada, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Colombia. Reinaldo Onofre dos Santos, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Roberto del Pozo, Master, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Saori Bazalar Palacios, Undergraduate, Universidad Católica los Ángeles de Chimbote, Peru. Sarah Diringer, PHD, Duke University, USA. Sarah Nuss, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Sarah Thornburg, Undergraduate, Duke University, USA. Tiago Lima do Nascimento, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Vanessa Ferreira, Master, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Victoria Salinas, PHD, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. Yesmit Pisfil Ramirez, Undergraduate, Universidad Católica los Ángeles de Chimbote, Peru.
Land Use and Land Cover Changes (LULCC), and a changing climate have important impacts on the natural environment and the human population of the Amazon. Forest conversion in Amazonia influences the dynamics of endemic infectious diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and leishmaniasis. Local societies, considered as complex social-ecological systems, have inter-linkages between social, environmental and epidemiological phenomena which will be approached by using several multivariate and qualitative methods. Agent Based Modeling (ABM) will also be used to produce LULCC and vulnerability scenarios. ABMs are capable of representing feedback loops and critical thresholds at very low levels of social aggregation or scales and, in the process of modeling, the actions of agents and their effects will create a series of possible scenarios.
Four field sites will be investigated in Western Amazonia, a rich biodiversity hotspot: Machadinho, in Rondônia (Brazil); Madre de Dios and Loreto, in Peru; and Northern Ecuadorian Amazon. Inputs from multivariate and qualitative methods and ABMs will be used to develop an Index of Social Environmental and Health Vulnerability of the territories to the impacts of global environmental changes. An outreach strategy is proposed through workshops with local stakeholders and the design of appropriate materials for the dissemination of the results of the project.