Funding granted to Finnish-Brazilian research projects in ecology

The Academy of Finland and the Brazilian research funding agency São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) have decided to fund five joint Finnish-Brazilian research projects within the area of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources. The Academy’s contribution to the total funding, which was open for application in early summer 2013, comes to nearly EUR 3 million. The Academy’s funding goes to the six Finnish partners in the five projects.

The project by Jani Heino (University of Oulu), Janne Soininen (University of Helsinki) and Tadeu Siqueira (UNESP, São Paulo State University) examines the effects of landscape disturbance on the beta diversity of stream macroinvertebrates and diatoms in both Brazil and Finland. The research is of importance in developing both basic and applied ecology, helping to understand the structuring of ecological communities and the homogenisation of biological diversity in the face of anthropogenic changes. In addition to community-level phenomena, the researchers will also examine which environmental factors affect the distribution of single species.

Juha Hyyppä (Finnish Geodetic Institute) and Antonio Maria Garcia Tommaselli (UNESP) head a joint project with a view to develop mapping technologies for biodiversity change. The methods will be in the regeneration areas of the interior of the state of São Paulo in Brazil (Inside Atlantic Forest) and in the Evo research forest in Finland.

The project by Otso Ovaskainen (University of Helsinki) and Milton Cezar Ribeiro (UNESP) aims at developing new methods of field research and statistical modelling in the context of tropical ecology. The researchers will be using several new technologies for sampling designs for biodiversity surveys: autonomous audio recorders, small GPS tags, radio telemetry data loggers and harmonic radar technology. They will also develop a general Bayesian state-space framework that enables the integration of individual-level movement data with population- and community-level census data. The statistical methods will be applied to large-scale and long-term data with the aim of deriving new insights about the ecology of tropical birds, mammals, bats and bees. The focus is on applied ecological questions that are relevant in the context of the reformulation of the Brazilian Forest Act.

Kaarina Sivonen (University of Helsinki) and Marli de Fatima Fiore (University of São Paulo) will receive funding for a joint project investigating the biodiversity of cyanobacteria in the diverse habitats of Brazil. Strains will be isolated and screened for bioactive compounds and corresponding genes and biosynthetic enzymes new to science. The researchers will solve the structures of the most promising compounds and use gene technology to improve their production yields. Cyanobacteria produce potent toxins but are also prolific sources of bioactive compounds (e.g. drugs) and enzymes.

The project by Hanna Tuomisto (University of Turku) and Dilce de Fátima Rossetti (National Institute for Space Research, INPE) will map Amazonian biodiversity, which is both extensive and largely unexplored. Attention will be given both to the current distribution of biodiversity in Amazonia and to the geological history that has shaped it. This will involve a combination of novel remote-sensing methods, exceptionally extensive and internally consistent field data and a thorough understanding of the geology of the Amazon basin and the ecology of selected indicator plants. Estimating how well existing conservation units represent different habitats and their species is necessary for the long-term preservation of biological diversity and for sustainable use of forest resources.

More information:

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Vesa Varpula
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