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Summer Institute 2000 Research Mini-Projects

Two hands-on research mini-projects are being completed by participants during the 2000 IAI/UM Summer Institute. The first mini-project, focused on environmental controls and effect of land use on ecosystem functioning in temperate Argentina will be coordinated by Dr. José Paruelo, from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The second mini-project focused on land cover and land use change at various scales in Amazonia, Brazil, is being coordinated by Dr. Foster Brown from the Woods Hole Research Center and Universidade do Acre. Brief descriptions of each project can be found below. Summaries of the main results of each project will be added as available.


Brief biographical sketches of mini-project coordinators


Mini-Project 1: Environmental controls and effect of land use on ecosystem functioning in temperate Argentina.

Coordinator: Dr. José Paruelo

    Project Description

    Project Participants

    • Odalys Bouza
    • Gabriela Eguren
    • Elizabeth Fraser
    • Kerri Gilders
    • Ricardo Grau
    • Marcelo Ilundain
    • Erna López
    • Eugenio Marcano

    Background Information

    Project Results

    • Environmental controls and effect of land use on ecosystem functioning in temperate Argentina
      Odalys Bouza, Gabriela Eguren, Elizabeth Fraser, Kerri Gilders, Ricardo Grau, Marcelo Ilundain, Erna López, Eugenio Marcano
      [PDF File 5.61 Mb]


Mini-Project 2: Land cover and land use change at the basin, state and local scales of Amazonia.

Coordinator: Dr. Foster Brown

    • Biomass estimate for extractive reserves management and CDMs transference
      Angelica Almeyda, Jeff Bury, Andrea Chavez, Glynis Ford, Juan Pablo Guerschman
      Ignacio Llovet, Daniel López Giraldo, Andre Mendes, Carla Morsello, Jane Read

      [PDF File 421Kb]
    • Biomass and carbon content of Acre's forests
      Angelica Almeyda and Carla Morsello
      [PDF File 1.4Mb]
    • Estimation of deforestation rates in the Amazon: The case of Porongaba Seringa
      Jeff Bury and Glynis Ford
      [PDF File 1.3 Mb]
    • Land cover and land use change at the basin, state, and local scales of Amazonia
      Andrea Chavez
      [PDF File 228 Kb]
    • Forest cover/carbon stocks of small holders in Amazonian forests. The case of Sringal Porongaba (Acre): Implications of Kyoto Protocol at Seringal
      Juan Pablo Guerschman and Andre Mendes
      [PDF File 2.8 Mb]
    • Frontier occupation of the Bolivia/Acre border
      Ignacio Llovet and Jane Read
      [PDF File 179 Kb]
    • Analysis of the Large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere experiment in Amazonia (LBA). Abstracts of June 2000.
      Daniel López Giraldo
      [PDF File 268 Kb

Follow-up activities

To follow-up on work started as part of the mini-project on land use in Amazonia during the Summer Institute 2000, Juan Pablo Guerschman and Carlos Andre Mendes visited the Federal University of Acre, Brazil, in January 2001. Their visit was hosted by Dr. Foster Brown, coordinator of the Amazonia mini-project. The objective of the visit was to continue the activities performed during the Summer Institute 2000, and to strengthen the communication among the respective research groups. During the stay in Acre, Juan Pablo and Andre visited the Seringal Prongaba, an extractivist reserve in the Amazon Rainforest. The full text of the visit report written by Juan Pablo Guerschman is available [PDF file, 360K, in Spanish].


Mini-Project 1: Environmental controls and effect of land use on ecosystem functioning in temperate Argentina.

Brief Project Description

This mini project will have two objectives. The first objective will be to answer the following questions:

  1. Which are the spatial patterns of land use in temperate Argentina?
  2. What are the environmental factors (climatic and edaphic) determining the spatial patterns of land use in this area? What is the relative importance of these factors to determine land use patterns?
  3. What is the impact of landuse on ecosystem functioning?

From these questions, the participants will develop specific objectives and hypotheses. The group will discuss formal and practical difficulties in evaluating these hypotheses. We will provide background literature on the history of colonization, potential vegetation of the area, climatic patterns and a brief description of the characteristics of the present types of land use in the region. Participants will work on databases on land use, climate and soils at the county level. Ecosystem functioning estimates will be derived from remotely sensed data. On these databases the participants will perform basic statistical analyses (stepwise regression and simple multivariate analyses). Participants will face the problems of building the databases based on their specific objectives. Of course, to save time ready-to-use databases will be available after participants attempt to build their own. The main goal is to provide a quantitative answer to the questions stated and to generate a critical discussion on the scope and limitations of the approach used and on the conclusions.

The second objective is to evaluate quantitatively the effect of landuse on the services provided by the ecosystems in the Argentine Pampas. The idea is to repeat the Constanza et al. (1997) analysis at a higher level of spatial resolution.

Background literature (not exhaustive):

  • Hall, A. J., Rebella, C. M., Ghersa, C. M. and Culot, J. Ph. 1992. Field-Crop Systems of the Pampas. In C.J. Pearson. Field Crop Ecosystems Series. Ecosystems of the World. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp.413-440.
  • Soriano A. 1993. Rio de la Plata Grasslands. In: Coupland RT, editor. Natural grasslands. Introduction and Western Hemisphere. Series Ecosystems of the World. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 367-408.
  • Costanza, R., R. d‘Arge, R. de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon, K. Limburg, S. Naeem, R.V. O’Neill, J. Paruelo, R.G. Raskin, P. Sutton y M. Van den Belt. 1997. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 357:253-260.


Mini-Project 2: Land cover and land use change at the basin, state and local scales of Amazonia.

Brief Project Description

This mini-project will focus on current research related to three scales of land cover and land use change (LCLUC) in Amazonia. Each scale is subdivided into a set of exercises that will require analysis of current research and development of analytical approaches.

The first scale concerns the impact of land-use at Amazon basin level and has two exercises. We will use the ongoing Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) as an example of how the international science community addresses LCLUC in Amazonia. A central question that guides this major scientific project is "How will changes in land use and climate affect the biological, chemical and physical functions of Amazonia, including the sustainability of development in the region and the influence of Amazonia on global climate?"

Participants will analyze the results of the first LBA scientific conference (Belem, June 2000) as to the response of the LBA to this question. The goal of this exercise is to determine what is being done and what are the gaps in the current research efforts. The product for this component will be the formulation of a Research Announcement (RA) that seeks to fill these gaps. Such a RA will be released in the coming months.

The second exercise at the Amazon basin scale involves the interplay of climate variability, forest metabolism, and human activities that affect forest flammability. We will use the RisQue Model (Nepstad et al. 1999) as a basis for analyzing the interaction of these factors during the El Niño of 1997-98. Participants will manipulate the model and analyze the implications of the results for development plans proposed for Brazilian Amazonia (Avança Brasil).

The second scale relates to the ecological and economic zoning efforts of states in Brazilian Amazonia and the extrapolation of current trends. Of primary concern for these efforts are the distribution of deforested areas, rates of deforestation and logging activities. Recently, divergent estimates of area deforested in the State of Acre in western Brazilian Amazonia resulted in a workshop to resolve the discrepancies. Participants will use GIS and other approaches to compare the data available and test various hypotheses to explain the discrepancies. An overview of logging activities of Acre State will complement this comparison. An analysis of the political implications of uncertainty in such data will conclude the first exercise at this scale.

The second exercise at the state-level scale involves the future of Amazonia. Current deforestation trends extrapolated over the coming decades will produce a landscape of fragmented forest patches, similar to that now existing in Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Forest where less than ten percent of the original forest remains. This exercise will involve using GIS to select the priority municipalities for forest conservation activities in the State of Rio de Janeiro. At the current deforestation rates, the Atlantic Coastal Forest of this state will vanish within 40 years, unless active conservation efforts are undertaken.

The third scale involves an analysis of whether local communities in Amazonia may participate in the benefits of the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) proposed during the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change in 1997. These CDMs are to serve two purposes – reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere and promote sustainable development by altering land use patterns. In order for

community projects to qualify for financial benefits of CDMs, the results of reforestation, afforestation or possibly conservation of forests must be "quantifiable and verifiable." In other words, the amount of forest biomass needs to be determined in different land cover and land use regimes. Participants will learn the basics of quantifying forest biomass and will use error propagation methods to determine what level of quantification and verification will be possible at the community level.

Selected References

  • Brown, I.F., D.C. Nepstad, I. Pires, L.Luz e A. Alechandre. 1992. Carbon storage and land-use in extractive reserves, Acre, Brazil. Environmental Conservation. 19(4): 307- 315.
  • Brown, I.F., L. Martinelli, W. Thomas, M.Z. Moreira, C.A.C. Ferreira, and R.A. Victoria. 1995. Uncertainty in the biomass of Amazonian forests: an example from Rondônia, Brazil. Forest Ecology and Management 75: 175-189.
  • Glantz, M.H., A. Tandy Brook and P. Parisi. 1997. Rates and processes of Amazon Deforestation. Available at http://www3.cptec.inpe.br/lba/index.html [LBA Links and Links to Related Research].
  • Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia and Instituto Socio-Ambiental. 2000. Avança Brasil. The Environmental Costs for Amazonia. In Portuguese. PDF format at www.ipam.org.br.
  • Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia. 1996. Concise Experimental Plan. This and other useful documents are available at http://www3.cptec.inpe.br/lba/index.html [LBA Science/Background Documents].
  • Nepstad, D.C., A. Verissimo, A. Alencar, C. Nobre, E. Lima, P. Lefebvre, P. Schlesinger, C. Potter, P. Moutinho, E. Mendoza, M. Cochrane, and V. Brooks. 1999. Large-scale impoverishment of Amazonian forests by logging and fire. Nature 398: 505-508.


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Page last Updated: Friday, February 16, 2001 at 12:05 PM
Contact: Guillermo Podestá (gpodesta@rsmas.miami.edu),
Summer Institute Science Coordinator
Telephone:+1.305.361.4142