ARBOLES – A Trait-based Understanding of LATAM Forest Biodiversity and Resilience

Project Website: ARBOLES

Funding Body: NERC (UK), CONCYTEC (Peru)

Project Duration: 03/2019 – 03/2022

Project Overview:

Latin American forests (LATAM) are global epicentres of biological and environmental diversity, and are home to the poorest and most vulnerable people on Earth. These forests are under a wide range of local pressures, including mining, selective logging, and conversion to farmland, while also experiencing stressors due to climate change. Therefore, the ARBOLES project will examine how forest plants respond to these anthropogenic and environmental pressures and how the composition of plant species in LATAM forests is likely to change over time, informing management strategies in the study region. In Peru, the project will develop two objectives and components:

Component 1 / specific objective: It will evaluate the functional traits that allow the success of regeneration in disturbed forests. We will work with the overexploitation of key species such as Mauritia flexuosa in the Peruvian peatland forests (aguajales), where there are 12 permanent plots in natural forests and six new plots will be established in degraded forests. We will conduct biodiversity assessments (plants and animals) along this gradient of human influence, taking data on the structure and composition of the forest, such as the measurement and identification of large stems (> 10 cm in diameter) and smaller stems (5-10cm in diameter). This component includes the development of an undergraduate thesis in the evaluation of the factors that drive the degradation of aguajales such as seed availability, edge effect and defaunation.

Component 2 / specific objective: It will evaluate the functional traits that allow a climate-smart economy. We will establish two experimental greenhouses with heat and drought regulation, where the functional traits of response to environmental variables will be evaluated in seedlings of 10 commercial forest species. We will carry out evaluations of the foliar characteristics (the leaf surface per unit mass or specific foliar area) and of water transport in the stem (vulnerability to embolism in the xylem), variables that are strongly related to the maximum water stress to which forest species can live. This component includes the development of an undergraduate thesis on the measurement of functional traits in plants subjected to heating and drought in controlled greenhouses.

Team Members:

Name Role Affiliation/Institute
David Galbrieth Principal investigator, UK University of Leeds
Euridice Honorio Coronado Principal Investigator, Perú IIAP
Nallarett Davila Cardoso Co-investigator, Perú IIAP
Jhon del Aguila Pasquel Co-investigator, Perú IIAP
Dennis del Castillo Torres Co-investigator, Perú IIAP

Project Partners: University of Leeds, Universidad Austral de Chile, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Contact Information: Eurídice Honorio ([email protected]), Nállarett Dávila ([email protected])