We propose an integrated remote sensing and
field-based examination of the causes and biogeochemical consequences of
regional land-cover change within the Arc of Deforestation in the southern
Amazon Basin. Research components include field observations, regional
synthesis, and multiresolution studies, with a major focus on remote sensing.
We will refine the standardized methods we developed during LBA-ECO Phase I for
consistent mapping of regional land-cover conversion through time. The
techniques will be expanded to include diverse environmental variation, and new
methods will be developed to map forest degraded by logging, fire, and
fragmentation. These remote sensing products will be combined with
ancillary data sets and field measurements to evaluate the relative importance
of environmental and human controls on patterns of land-cover change, and the
consequences of land-cover change for vegetation growth and succession and for
soil and stream biogeochemistry. Our previous research in Rondônia shows
that variations in topography and rock type generate significant gradients in
natural soil fertility and stream nutrient concentrations across the state.
Roads and urban networks, superimposed on this natural variation, constrain or
accelerate land-cover conversion and have important consequences for human
impacts on stream biogeochemistry.
Our questions represent diverse
academic disciplines, but all aim to combine remote sensing with field
measurements to develop an integrated understanding of regional patterns in
land-cover change and its biogeochemical consequences. In addition to
producing a variety of remote sensing products to monitor land-cover change, we
will address the following questions: How can remote sensing methods be
combined with field measurements to better quantify changes in vegetation
community structure due to selective logging, and how extensive are those
changes? What are the topographic and geologic determinants of soil
mineralogy and fertility across the state of Rondônia, and how does this
natural variation in soil type constrain or promote land-cover conversion?
Finally, how do vegetation conversion and the evolving human settlement system
affect terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemistry and over what scales do these
Our research approach can be
divided into three intersecting phases: 1) mapping and monitoring a suite of
land-cover changes; 2) evaluation of the natural and human drivers of forest
conversion; and 3) measurement of the impacts of those changes on forest
structure in selectively logged areas and on soil and stream biogeochemistry in
areas converted to pasture. The research will be conducted in the
Brazilian states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso, which show significant intra- and
interstate variations in deforestation rates, selective logging intensity, urban
development, and environmental gradients. An important aspect of the
project is a dedication to exchange research methods and techniques in the LBA/Amazon
research community, most intensively among Imazon, INPE, and UCSB.
Institutional exchanges will provide an opportunity for intensive training, data
sharing and research collaboration among U.S. and Brazilian participants.