The evidence that habitat loss, fragmentation and conversion is one of the main drivers of the ecosystem degradation triggering biodiversity decline and contemporary extinctions has increased during the last decades. This observation is expected to keep its importance given that most lands are already dominated by anthropogenic activities, mainly agricultural lands. Thus, it has been pointed out that our understanding to avoid critical land use changes affecting the Earth systems should be an international priority.
This project aims to identify early signals of ecological systems –networks- before a collapse –sudden changes on key features- take place, based on the characteristics of species interactions. In addition, we would like to also understand the drivers influencing native vegetation loss and fragmentation as the sociecological systems as way to understand the dynamics of change at the region where this project is taken place. Our main objective is identify critical changes in ecological interactions across land cover gradient supporting the design and implementation of conservation strategies timely; at the same time that insights about the mechanisms underpinning species extinctions based on changes of species interactions are explored. In this context we expect that: i) biodiversity components may change abruptly across a land cover gradient and can arise before a threshold or sudden response emerges, ii) those changes can be related to the nature of the ecological networks in which the species are engaged on, iii) defaunation of some species or groups may exacerbate the top-down or bottom-up control of the communities in a context dependent way in relation to the land cover change, and iv) we get a basic understanding of the relationship between land use cover change and socioeconomic systems in this region. Those predictions have never been tested using a long-term integrated framework including observational and experimental studies in a continuous gradient of land cover change at a landscape scale including aspects such as the drivers of change in order to understand the socio-ecological systems driving the changes.
Further information: PELD-Planalto da Bodoquena