Carla Chizmar, MESc

2011 Compton Fellow in Brazil

Ecophysiological and anatomical traits of native tree species used in the restoration of the Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

Brazil Atlantic Rainforest is a biodiversity hotspot considered a top priority for conservation; it covers 15% of Brazil’s territory, extends through 17 states, and holds more than 63% of the population (ca. 110 million people). The scale of deforestation and land degradation that the Atlantic Rainforest has undergone in the past 300 years demands interventions to restore its biodiversity, ecological services and goods. Opportunities to combine forest restoration with sustainable rural livelihoods and community participation abound in the region. Over 400 species of plants can be found in a hectare of forest in this region, yet little is known about their ecophysiological needs. The aim of my study was to elucidate ecophysiological and anatomical traits of native species used in restoration efforts in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest to develop drought and shade tolerance indices. I conducted my research at the Center for Biodiversity Studies at the Michelin Ecological Reserve, located in the Municipality of Igrapiuna, 200 km south from Salvador City in the State of Bahia, Brazil. In 2005 the reserve started a native species reforestation project planting under the shade of their rubber plantations. To better understand the ecophysiological responses of the native species used in the reforestation I selected twenty species within a plantation to collect data in relation to their photosynthetic performance, growth rates, total leaf area, mass, and stomata density. The data collected will allow me to compare leaf level traits in shade and drought tolerance across species in relation to growth and total leaf area. Integrated trait comparisons will allow we to construct relative rankings in tolerance for the species. Evidence collected through this study will contribute to the successful establishment of native species reforestation projects, restoration of degraded lands, and biodiversity enrichment of abandoned rubber plantations.


Using Leaf Level Traits to Develop Tolerance Rankings of Native Tree Species for Restoration Under-planting of Rubber Plantations in Brazil