Ecosystem function analysis in Andean and Amazonian forests to understand the carbon dynamics and its response to climate change (RAINFOR/TRAIT)
It is critical to understand carbon balance in the tropical forests, even more to determine its potential role in accelerating or slowing down climate change throughout the twenty-first century.
In particular, it is important to understand the link between arboreal biodiversity and the carbon cycle along the Peruvian Andes-Amazon gradient. The knowledge of structural, physical and chemical features of the tree species in tropical ecosystems and their connection to carbon dynamics provides a better understanding of tropical forests responses to the climate change.
Carry out an intense field campaign (April – November 2013) for gathering data on the physical, structural, chemical features and content of leaves, stems and roots, to determine following points:
- How do the chemical, anatomical and gas exchange features vary in the plots and between the plots along the environmental gradient?
- Existence of significant trends in the features of leaves and wood along the transept.
- Degree of seasonality and inter-annual variability of the carbon cycle and nutrients.
- Storage capacity and nitrogen and phosphorus return rate of the canopy, wood, fine roots at plot level.
- For individual trees, which is the link between nutrient flow and canopy leaves features (for example, what is the relationship between SLA and the return of canopy nutrients, described by the decomposition of the leaf and the translocation of nutrients.
Bioindicators for shelf-life prediction of green asparagus
Fresh cut asparagus is a very perishable product. From the moment you cut the asparagus stem base in the field, numerous physiological and biochemical processes are starting up until the progressive deterioration of the quality of the product. It is estimated that the life potential of fresh asparagus under optimum temperature and humidity conditions is two weeks from the harvest time. The processes carried out between harvesting and market delivery (transport, handling, fumigation and storage) introduce a new variability and affect (or reduce) its lifetime. The lack of quick and precise indicators of the physiological state of the product hinders the shelf-life prediction of green asparagus. It also impedes the identification of post-harvest processing stages that contribute to the reduction of the lifetime, but may be improved. The project works on the development of a method to assess shelf-life prediction of fresh asparagus based on the presence of early volatile bioindicators of the senescence process. The project takes advantage of the group’s strength in bioanalytical techniques for the analysis of volatile compounds in a biochemical context.
Identification of volatile organic compounds, quantitative bioindicators of asparagus senescence process, so that an electronic nose, or equivalent equipment, can be used to detect, quantify and predict the remaining shelf-life of the product. The research involves analytical technology and multivariate analysis to identify and model the senescence process of cut asparagus. The project is developed jointly with the Complejo Agroindustrial Beta S.A.(agro-industrial complex Beta S. A.). It has several aspects related to intellectual property due to the direct application of innovative analytical technologies in agro-industrial processes.
Carbon cycle dynamics in the South-East Amazonian forest
The generation of global future climate predictive models requires a detailed knowledge on biochemical processes involved in the planetary cycle of carbon. Tropical forests are dynamic carbon cesspools extremely sensitive to climate variables. Changes in the composition and diversity of plant species, caused by climatic effects at local or global scale, may cause significant functional alterations in the ecosystems and affect their role as carbon reservoirs. This project focuses on the carbon-cycle components in the forest of the Tambopata National Reserve, Madre de Dios. The methodology consists of the quantitative continuous monitoring of turbulent flows of carbon dioxide, methane and volatile organic compounds, above the forest canopy, and the analysis of its correlation with climate variables. Simultaneously, the biochemical variables studied are useful indicators for assessing the potential for organic matter degradation in the forest soil and the consequential emission of greenhouse gases.
The proposal is to correlate the soil carbon dioxide and methane emissions with the flows observed on the forest canopy, to generate complete models of the forest behavior as carbon cesspool or emitter in response to climate variables. The data and model generation are carried out in cooperation with the Universities of Edinburgh and Sao Paulo. The results are part of the world networks FLUXNET and GEOCARBON.
Productividad, distribución y ciclo de carbono en un gradiente andino-amazónico
Es un esfuerzo internacional para medir y comprender las funciones y características de los ecosistemas tropicales en el sur del Perú y cómo podrían responder estos ecosistemas al cambio climático. Estos estudios forman parte del Global Ecosystem Monitoring network (GEM) de la Universidad de Oxford, Reino Unido.
Esta actividad está estrechamente ligada al proyecto Diversidad arbórea y patrones de distribución de las comunidades boscosas en los Andes y Amazonía, considerando las parcelas permanentes para el estudio de la vegetación instaladas a lo largo del gradiente de elevación y utilizando este gradiente como laboratorios naturales para hacer seguimientos de la dinámica del carbono y así comprender la asignación de carbono en los bosques tropicales, considerando las existencias en biomasa viva, descomposición de la biomasa muerta y relacionarlos con procesos eco-fisiológicos del bosque.
- Establecer parcelas de monitoreo permanente de la dinámica del carbono a lo largo del gradiente de elevación desde los Andes a la amazonia de acuerdo a los protocolos ya establecidos en GEM, (http://gem.tropicalforests.ox.ac.uk/).
- Los datos generados se integrarán a la base de datos mundial de GEM que actualmente realiza el mismo monitorea en América, Asia, África y Europa.
- Llevar a cabo un monitoreo climático a los largo del gradiente de elevación para relacionarlo con la dinámica de los bosques.
- Cuantificar y comprender los flujos de carbono por encima y debajo del suelo de los bosques tropicales.
- Establecer la infraestructura, métodos, experiencia para continuar con los monitoreos a largo plazo, poniendo especial énfasis en la capacitación de investigadores locales.
Tree diversity and distribution patterns of forest populations in the Andes and Amazonia
As part of the international research consortium Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group (ABERG), we study the ecology and distribution of the plant communities on the eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes. This area is considered one of the most biodiverse worldwide, but also as the most threatened and vulnerable to climate change. The aim of this research is to better understand the ecosystem function based on the improved knowledge of the biodiversity distribution, tree diversity, species composition and coexistence. The great variation of climatic factors along the elevation gradient is an essential aspect of the forest dynamics, from the Andes to the Amazon. We have a particular focus on the tree line, as possible barrier to the plant migration in response to climate change.
- Establishment of continuous monitoring plots along an elevation gradient for the RAINFOR data base (http://www.forestplots.net/es).
- Conduct periodic censuses considering results of the first plots since 2006.
- The results will provide data and forecasting for the design and implementation of effective conservation strategies.