|WildForests - Wildlife conservation and exotic production forests: the need for a bidirectional relation in sustainable landscapes|
Programme - Projetos de Investigação Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (02/SAICT/2017)
Execution dates - 2018-06-01 - 2021-05-31 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 205208 €
Total Funding - 219948 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
INIAV - INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGAÇÃO AGRÁRIA E VETERINÁRIA, I.P.
Conversion of native ecosystems to agriculture, agro-forestry or forestry systems is considered a major threat to biodiversity, since it induces changes in the composition and structure of communities, and likely the modification of ecological processes. Despite its negative effects, converted systems can still sustain wildlife, including some menaced species, which manage to adapt to new conditions. However, it is yet unclear which mechanisms/processes allow populations to persist in these systems and how they interact. Increasingly important worldwide are forestry plantations outside its native range, such as exotic Eucalyptus production forests (EPF) that cover nowadays >20 million ha. In Portugal, EPF cover 8.8% of the country's territory and represent 26% of all Portuguese forests. Moreover, Portuguese EPF represent ca. 49% of all European EPF. Thus, the project core is to assess: 1) The potential of EPF to become part of a conservation tool-kit - understand the impacts of EPF in wildlife populations' patterns, processes and persistence [diversity and population structure (e.g. density, sex-ratio); fitness (e.g. ectoparasite load, stress); processes and patterns of resource use (e.g. trophic networks)] and develop strategies to minimize their effects; 2) The role of mammals in the maintenance of sustainable, certified and functional EPF - determine how ecological processes can be integrated into management to maximize population persistence in economically viable EPF (integrating wildlife indicators into EPF management to build a functional landscape by maintaining ecological processes). Mammals will be used as the model group and analysis will be based on functional groups, to allow linking the contribution of functional traits to ecosystem processes and services delivery, and extrapolating results to EPF with distinct guild compositions. WildForests is based on a multidisciplinary and innovative approach in EPF impact assessment, that includes: wildlife trapping and camera trapping (diversity, population structure, resource useprocesses and patterns); molecular ecology (resource use processes and patterns); and stress indicators (physiology parameters). The use of state-of-the-art ecological modeling tools (e.g. spatially explicit joint species distribution models) will assure results robustness and predictions accuracy. Results will be disseminated through scientific publications (e.g. papers, books), but also made available to the general public and forestry stakeholders (e.g. technical meetings with EPF managers; congresses/conferences; outreach activities) and as guidelines for a sustainable EPF management (e.g. reports). The research team has a vast and complementary experience in core areas of the project: biodiversity assessments and monitoring, and modelling species-habitat relations; assessing the biological impacts of EPF; molecular ecology; wildlife body condition and stress assessment and science communication.