Manaus, Brazil

The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, originally called the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems Project is a large-scale ecological experiment looking at the effects of habitat fragmentation on tropical rainforest; it is one of the most expensive biology experiments ever run. The experiment, which was established in 1979 is located near Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon. The project is jointly managed by the Smithsonian Institution and INPA, the Brazilian Institute for Research in the Amazon.The project was initiated in 1979 by Thomas Lovejoy to investigate the SLOSS debate. Initially named the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems Project, the project created forest fragments of sizes 1 hectare , 10 hectares , and 100 hectares . Data were collected prior to the creation of the fragments and studies of the effects of fragmentation now exceed 25 years.As of October 2010 562 publications and 143 graduate dissertations and theses had emerged from the project. Wikipedia.

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Scarpassa V.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research | Alencar R.B.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Parasites and Vectors | Year: 2013

Background: Lutzomyia umbratilis (a probable species complex) is the main vector of Leishmania guyanensis in the northern region of Brazil. Lutzomyia anduzei has been implicated as a secondary vector of this parasite. These species are closely related and exhibit high morphological similarity in the adult stage; therefore, they have been wrongly identified, both in the past and in the present. This shows the need for employing integrated taxonomy. Methods. With the aim of gathering information on the molecular taxonomy and evolutionary relationships of these two vectors, 118 sequences of 663 base pairs (barcode region of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I - COI) were generated from 72 L. umbratilis and 46 L. anduzei individuals captured, respectively, in six and five localities of the Brazilian Amazon. The efficiency of the barcode region to differentiate the L. umbratilis lineages I and II was also evaluated. The data were analyzed using the pairwise genetic distances matrix and the Neighbor-Joining (NJ) tree, both based on the Kimura Two Parameter (K2P) evolutionary model. Results: The analyses resulted in 67 haplotypes: 32 for L. umbratilis and 35 for L. anduzei. The mean intra-specific genetic distance was 0.008 (0.002 to 0.010 for L. umbratilis; 0.008 to 0.014 for L. anduzei), whereas the mean interspecific genetic distance was 0.044 (0.041 to 0.046), supporting the barcoding gap. Between the L. umbratilis lineages I and II, it was 0.009 to 0.010. The NJ tree analysis strongly supported monophyletic clades for both L. umbratilis and L. anduzei, whereas the L. umbratilis lineages I and II formed two poorly supported monophyletic subclades. Conclusions: The barcode region clearly separated the two species and may therefore constitute a valuable tool in the identification of the sand fly vectors of Leishmania in endemic leishmaniasis areas. However, the barcode region had not enough power to separate the two lineages of L. umbratilis, likely reflecting incipient species that have not yet reached the status of distinct species. © 2013 Scarpassa and Alencar; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Climatic Change | Year: 2013

Issues left undecided at COP-18 in Doha in December 2012 are critical to containing the two greatest threats to Brazil's Amazon forest: direct deforestation and forest loss through drought and fire provoked by climate change. Brazil's diplomatic positions on the role of tropical forests in mitigating global warming currently call for receiving donations through a voluntary fund, but without generating carbon credit valid against emissions-reduction commitments by countries that accept limits on their national emissions (i.e., Annex I countries). Brazil has long rejected accepting a target (assigned amount), and has instead presented a non-binding "voluntary objective." At COP-17 in Durban, Brazil expressed willingness to accept a commitment after 2020, but only if all of the rest of the world agreed to do the same. This author argues that Brazil's national interests would be better served by accepting a target now and by supporting fully marketable carbon credit from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). The global goal of preventing mean temperature from increasing beyond 2 °C above pre-industrial levels would be much more likely to be achieved in practice with tropical forests fully included in a carbon market as part of an agreement for the period after 2012. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change | Year: 2013

Carbon credit is granted to hydroelectric dams under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the assumptions that (1) the dams would not be built without CDM funding and (2) over the 7 to 10-year duration of the projects the dams would have minimal emissions as compared to the fossil fuel-generated electricity they displace. Both of these assumptions are false, especially in the case of tropical dams such as those planned in Amazonia. Brazil's Teles Pires Dam, now under construction, provides a concrete example indicating the need for reform of CDM regulations by eliminating credit for hydroelectric dams. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Magnusson W.E.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Nature Conservation | Year: 2014

There are many techniques to deal with uncertainty when modeling data. However, there are many forms of uncertainty that cannot be dealt with mathematically that have to be taken into account when designing a biodiversity monitoring system. Some of these can be minimized by careful planning and quality control, but others have to be investigated during monitoring, and the scale and methods adjusted when necessary to meet objectives. Sources of uncertainty include uncertainty about stakeholders, who will monitor, what to sample, where to sample, causal relationships, species identifications, detectability, distributions, relationships with remote sensing, biotic concordance, complementarity, validity of stratification, and data quality and management. Failure to take into account any of these sources of uncertainty about how the data will be used can make monitoring nothing more than monitoring for the sake of monitoring, and I make recommendations as to how to reduce uncertainties. Some form of standardization is necessary, despite the multiple sources of uncertainty, and experience from RAPELD and other monitoring schemes indicates that spatial standardization is viable and helps reduce many sources of uncertainty. Copyright William E Magnusson.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2015

Tropical hydroelectric emissions are undercounted in national inventories of greenhouse gases under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), giving them a role in undermining the effectiveness of as-yet undecided emission limits. These emissions are also largely left out of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, and have been excluded from a revision of the IPCC guidelines on wetlands. The role of hydroelectric dams in emissions inventories and in mitigation has been systematically ignored. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2014

The Santo AntÔnio and Jirau dams, under construction on the Madeira River, will have significant impacts, including flooding in Bolivia due to the Jirau reservoir's backwater stretch. The reservoirs eliminate natural ecosystems, and the dams block fish migration affecting both biodiversity and commercial production, especially of the giant catfish of the Madeira River that are important resources in Bolivia and Peru as well as Brazil. Changes in flooding regimes in downstream várzea (floodplain) lakes will also affect fisheries. Mercury methylation and greenhouse-gas emissions are additional problems. The reservoirs form part of a planned series of waterways that, if completed, would open large areas in Bolivian Amazonia to soybeans, thus stimulating deforestation. The dams have significant social impacts, including displacing riverside population and eliminating livelihoods from fishing. Despite the technical staff responsible for environmental licensing having submitted a formal opinion considering these concerns to be exceedingly serious and insufficiently studied to authorize dam construction, political appointees approved the licenses. The Madeira Dams offer important lessons for environmental control in Brazil and in many other countries facing similar challenges. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Water Alternatives | Year: 2013

The Madeira River, an Amazon tributary draining parts of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil, has one of the highest sediment loads in the world. The questions of how these sediments would affect the Santo Antônio and Jirau hydroelectric dams, now under construction in Brazil, and how the dams would affect sediment flows, have been the subject of an extended controversy associated with the environmental licensing of the dams. Shortly before licensing the dams, the official scenario changed completely from one in which sediments would accumulate rapidly but could be contained without damage to dam operation, to one in which there would be no accumulation of sediments at all. The uncertainty of this scenario is very high. Under political pressure, the technical staff of the licensing department was overridden and the dams were licensed and built without resolving a variety of controversies, including the question of sediments. Valuable lessons from the Madeira River sediment controversy could contribute to improving decision making on dams and other major development projects in Brazil and in many other countries.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Climate Policy | Year: 2012

Brazil's Amazon rainforest provides an important environmental service with its storage of carbon, thereby reducing global warming. A growing number of projects and proposals intend to reward carbon storage services. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is currently a key issue for negotiations on an international agreement that is to take effect in 2013. Various issues require decisions that will have substantial impacts on both the effectiveness of mitigation and the scale of Amazonia's potential role. These decisions include the effects that money generated from payments can have, the spatial scale of mitigation (e.g. projects or countries and sub-national political units), whether to have voluntary or mandatory markets, and whether these reductions will generate carbon credits to offset emissions elsewhere. It is argued that national-level programmes, combined with a national target under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, are the best solution for Brazil in terms of both capturing international funding and stimulating the major cuts in global emissions that are needed to minimize climate risk to the Amazon rainforest. The high likelihood of passing a tipping point for maintaining the Amazon rainforest implies the need for urgency in altering current negotiating positions. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Climatic Change | Year: 2015

When carbon credit is granted for projects that would occur irrespective of any subsidy based on mitigation of global warming, the projects generate “hot air,” or credit without a real climate benefit. This is the case for tropical hydroelectric dams, which are now a major destination for funds under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The countries that purchase the credit generated by dams can emit more greenhouse gases without their being offset by genuine mitigation. The limited funds available for mitigation are also wasted on subsidizing dams that would be built anyway. Tropical dams also emit substantially more greenhouse gases than are recognized in CDM accounting procedures. Tropical hydroelectric emissions are also undercounted in national inventories of greenhouse gases under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, giving them a role in undermining the effectiveness of as-yet undecided emission limits. Brazil’s Santo Antônio Dam, now under construction on the Madeira River, provides a concrete example indicating the need for reform of CDM regulations by eliminating credit for hydroelectric dams. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Fearnside P.M.,National Institute of Amazonian Research
Ambio | Year: 2015

Brazil plans to build 43 “large” dams (>30 MW) in the Tapajós Basin, ten of which are priorities for completion by 2022. Impacts include flooding indigenous lands and conservation units. The Tapajós River and two tributaries (the Juruena and Teles Pires Rivers) are also the focus of plans for waterways to transport soybeans from Mato Grosso to ports on the Amazon River. Dams would allow barges to pass rapids and waterfalls. The waterway plans require dams in a continuous chain, including the Chacorão Dam that would flood 18 700 ha of the Munduruku Indigenous Land. Protections in Brazil’s constitution and legislation and in international conventions are easily neutralized through application of “security suspensions,” as has already occurred during licensing of several dams currently under construction in the Tapajós Basin. Few are aware of “security suspensions,” resulting in little impetus to change these laws. © 2015, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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