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Research Projects

We have a focus on Amazonia and the Tropical Andes, but students work in a variety of places and settings across the tropics. Below we provide some details about main projects we are working on. They include Amazonian floodplain ecology, Andean cloud forests and land-use change, and NTFP's. 

Cascading consequences of hunting and fishing for ecosystem services in Amazonian forests

This project aims to investigate the degree to which (over)harvest of large-bodied terrestrial and aquatic frugivores is an anthropogenic driver of carbon stock change in structurally undisturbed Amazonian forests, and elucidate the implications of defaunation to carbon stocks in otherwise undisturbed tropical forests.

Balancing biodiversity conservation with development in Amazonian
wetlands

This BiodivERsA funded project aims to investigate the threats to the integrity of Amazon floodplain habitats from development and resource extraction. Building on decades of floodplain-focused research in the Amazon by consortium members, we will improve characterization of Amazonian whitewater floodplain habitats and inundation dynamics, allowing us to 1) scale up existing fish, floodplain forest, and phytoplankton diversity datasets, 2) evaluate the potential impacts of regional drivers such as climate, land use change, and dams on floodplain habitats, and 3) engage a large panel of stakeholders at local and regional scale in looking for sustainable strategies for wetlands preservation.

Ecology and seasonality of Amazonian floodplain forests

Every year, Amazonian floodplain forests are inundated by water that spill over the banks of adjacent rivers. Resident flora and fauna are therefore subjected to alternating terrestrial and aquatic phases. Our research focuses on documenting the floodplain flora and fauna and understanding the impact of the seasonal inundation. We are also interested in identifying threats to these floodplain environments, and understanding and predicting their effects.

Amazon waterbird migrations

Information on bird migration within South America is still lacking. Seasonal flooding compels some birds that breed in aquatic habitats in Amazonia to undertake annual migrations, yet we know little about how the complex landscape of the Amazon region is used seasonally by these species. We work to map migration routes, migration behaviour, and to identify stop-over locations and destinations – ultimately linking this information to conservation of migratory birds.

Impacts of tropical agriculture

We are interested in how best to manage and expand tropical agriculture to minimize biodiversity losses. We work to assess whether land-sharing or land-sparing farming is best for biodiversity and to understand the impacts of agriculture across different spatial scales. Our research focus on oil palm in the Colombian Llanos and cattle farming in the Tropical Andes. More information about the Biodiversity, Agriculture and Conservation in Colombia/Biodiversidad, Agricultura y Conservacion en Colombia (or BACC) project can be found here: http://www.edwardslab.group.shef.ac.uk/bacc-project/

Natural resource management

Extractive activities, including hunting, collection of other non-timber forest products and fishing, are legally permitted in all indigenous and other multiple-use, sustainable development reserves in the Brazilian Amazon. We are interested in documenting natural resource use and work to provide guidelines for the sustainable use of such resources. 

Brazil nut life history

The Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) provides one of the most socio-economically important non-timber tropical forest products (NTFP) – the Brazil nut.  We work on all aspects of the life history of the tree, such as fruit and flower production, seed dispersal, regeneration success and growth rates.