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São Paulo State University (UNESP)

Country: Brazil

São Paulo State University (UNESP)

9 Projects, page 1 of 2
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/T004851/1
    Funder Contribution: 79,007 GBP

    NERC-FAPESP Seedcorn Fund Collaboration Project "Fire-adapted seed traits in Cerrado species" between RHUL (UK) and UNESP (Brazil) Fire is a global phenomenon which together with climate shapes the vegetation of natural and agricultural land. Our interaction with fire is characterised by both positive and negative aspects for mankind. Humans have long used fire including for landscape and weed management, and as tool to improve crop growth on arable land. Controlled fire is necessary to preserve the health and stimulate rejuvenation of wildland ecosystems such as the Brazilian Cerrado, the Mediterranean, as well as UK peatland and moorland. In these fire-prone regions plant regeneration is achieved to a large extent from soil-stored plant seeds. Depending on the species, environment, season and seed properties, the germination of the soil-stored seeds may be stimulated by compounds derived from the smoke or by the fire-generated heat-shock. The aim of the project is to comparatively investigate seeds from species adapted to fire-prone regions to identify novel mechanisms underpinning fire-generated heat-shock and smoke as germination cues. The derived mechanisms will be tested as tools for weed management and crop seed enhancement. Treatment with smoke and various smoke-derived compounds can stimulate the germination of certain weed seeds. This can be used as a weed management tool to deprive the soil from weeds prior to crop seed sowing. We however do not know why this does not work with all weed species, at all ambient conditions (temperature, seasons), and what seed structures and seed coat properties determine the effectiveness of the treatment. Smoke, various smoke-derived compounds, as well as heat-shock treatment can also improve the seed quality and performance of seedling establishment of certain vegetable crops. Again, we do not know what seed structures, seed coat properties and genes are responsible for these effects and why it only works with certain crop species. To advance our knowledge in this topic the leading seed science lab of Royal Holloway University of London (RHUK, United Kingdom) will collaborate with experts for fire vegetation management and Brazilian Cerrado species properties of Sao Paulo State University (UNESP, Brazil). The FAPESP-NERC programme is especially suited to support this collaboration based on the agreement of the two funding agencies. In the project we will investigate seeds of different fire-adapted species to identify novel mechanisms controlling how fire-derived smoke and heat-shock affect their germination, storability, and seedling establishment. This work will be conducted using methods from different science and engineering fields (including molecular biology, microscopy/imaging, biomechanical engineering, physiology) through interdisciplinary collaboration in a comparative approach with many fire-adapted species. This approach will for example identify certain seed coat properties or certain genes associated with the adaptation to fire-derived cues. Seeds of weed and crop species with similar properties/genes will then be used to test if the identified novel mechanism has potential for weed control or improving crop seed quality. The consortium has solid fire vegetation management and agri-technological expertise in these applications to provide solutions for this global challenge in climate change, healthy environment and food security.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: ES/N004663/1
    Funder Contribution: 90,886 GBP

    This proposed partnership addresses key challenges in planning for sustainable urban environments. The themes of water and energy are of strategic relevance to development goals in Brazil. The proposed partnership activities will build on an established collaborative knowledge base, bringing together social scientists and engineers with substantial track records in relation to sustainable urban development. In Brazil, the water/energy nexus is a research theme of major importance, due to water scarcity, and since >70% of Brazilian electricity comes from hydroelectricity. Evidence suggests that interventions at different spatio-temporal scales are required to reduce significant impacts-for-development resulting from mismanagement of water/energy resources. The inter-disciplinary project team and proposed activities shall afford innovative forms of dissemination and knowledge exchange between diverse academics, professionals and publics. Planned activities will include publicly-available research summaries, an online research network, the development of an existing app for the Brazilian context, a summer school and theory/practice workshops, and collaborative skills development/sharing. These activities will ensure that the project has extensive impact in Brazil, with potential to deliver long-term benefits in areas of strategic relevance to this call (water/energy), for the welfare of society in diverse developing contexts. Specifically, building upon the project team's existing links, the project will produce impacts in collaboration with NGOs focused upon sustainable development in Latin America and national/regional partners directly involved in the Brazilian water/energy nexus. Finally, the project will support the research team as it develops larger, related collaborative research projects on the crucial theme of water/energy in sustainable urban development.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P00878X/1
    Funder Contribution: 40,484 GBP

    Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 micro-atmospheres during preindustrial times to 370 micro-atmospheres today. This is predicted to double over the next 100 years if anthropogenic emissions of CO2 continue at their current rate. The microscopic marine algae (the phytoplankton), are able to fix CO2 through photosynthesis and can therefore reduce atmospheric CO2 by drawing it down into the ocean. Photosynthesis involves a series of enzymatic controlled reactions that start with capturing light energy and finish with fixing CO2 to build phytoplankton cells. Some of the fixed carbon is lost through respiration. Marine bacteria, the microscopic animals known as the zooplankton and phytoplankton themselves during the night time respire. The extent to which phytoplankton photosynthesize and fix carbon and the bacteria-zoophytoplankton (or marine plankton) community respires carbon controls whether CO2 is drawn down from the atmosphere to the ocean or is released to the atmosphere from the ocean. The overall objective of this proposal is to improve our understanding of how the marine plankton community in the South Atlantic and the coast of Brazil potentially regulate the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Phytoplankton carbon fixation can be monitored from space using satellite sensors. A new satellite sensor, that has the capability to do this, will be launched by the European Space Agency in autumn 2015. We will use data from this new satellite to study this phenomena in collaboration with a Brazilian Research Institute. The results will benefit both UK and Brazilian research on climate change. The RCUK-FAPESP Lead Agency Agreement is being applied by the applicants

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/S011641/1
    Funder Contribution: 1,095,540 GBP

    A large number of highly damaging invasive non-native species (INNS) have become established in South America. They affect native species, ecosystems and livelihoods. Many INNS are now so widespread that eradication is not an option. Their spread must be contained and their density reduced, in the long-term, in those areas where taking no action is not acceptable. This must be done as cost effectively as possible, and consider: By how much should INNS density be reduced? This depends on the resources available for management and on the relationship between the abundance of the focal INNS and the harm it causes to people and biodiversity. Considering what harm would be caused in the future if no action was taken now is also important. How should the desired reduction be achieved? Different individuals in a population contribute differently to spread. Thus, targeting the right age classes or acting in different seasons should be informed by the biology of the species (e.g. large pines produce more seeds than small ones). Where should the species be reduced? The areas invaded by INNS are often vast and spatial prioritisation is necessary. INNS are not equally damaging in all areas. Some ecosystems and human activities can withstand low density INNS presence, while others are so vulnerable they cannot tolerate even low INNS density. An example is the critically endangered hooded grebe in Austral Patagonia, driven to near extinction by the introduced American mink. The cost of managing INNS also varies spatially, especially in South America, where some areas are very difficult to access and the workforce is sparse. A further important consideration is that INNS are mobile. They have been able to spread when they first invaded, and can re-invade areas from which they have been removed through dispersal. This is both a challenge and an opportunity if management can exploit known patterns of spread. Ecologists have been studying dispersal dynamics in detail for decades, but have rarely used this knowledge to design effective management interventions. For instance, it may be possible to deplete a mobile INNS by intensively removing it from a small, highly attractive area, hence cost-effectively "vacuuming" a much larger area, or the spread of a plant INNS may be contained by making the establishment of seeds unlikely through spatially targeted land management. We will design and introduce to stakeholders a user-friendly decision tool that we expect will become widely used in Latin America. To make sure our approach is relevant for different contexts in Latin America, we will work with example species that have large impacts, and for which data already exist (invasive pines, privet, and mink). We will also model plausible scenarios for data-poor pine species, exotic grasses and carnivorous wasps, which impact local communities in Brazil, Argentina and Chile. We will find the most effective strategic management using sophisticated computer simulations considering species ecology, dispersal and intervention costs in a spatial context. We will identify where new data would most effectively reduce uncertainty on the best course of action. The problem we tackle is complex, and we will embed it in a process of co-operative adaptive management, so that managers continually improve their effectiveness by confronting different models to data. We will also use our project as a way to build research capacity in Latin America, by training early career researchers and PhD students by means of research visits, continuous collaboration and workshops. Our project will have a tangible positive and immediate impact on people and biodiversity in Latin America by delivering a step-change in the management of problematic INNS.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/V004867/1
    Funder Contribution: 626,232 GBP

    The project aims at enhancing the resilience of low-income communities living in disaster prone areas. The focus is on low-lying coastal zones that have a high risks of droughts and floods in selected parts of East Africa, Brazil and North America. It develops the geographic and socio-economic knowledge of persons living in slum and riverbed areas by gathering georeferenced data on infrastructures and information on the natural heritage of project sites. The project team will also investigate technology adoption barriers and diffusion drivers through designing and prototyping an affordable, disaster-resilient, low-income housing system that use sustainable locally-resourced materials. The development of urban spaces is a function of geographic location, economic history, urban development pattern, and therefore governance will have a bearing on resilience. Still, given that development (or lack thereof) of an urban center is an outcome of existing social, economic, and political inequities political inequities; policy packages for disaster preparedness that do not consider the unique circumstances of vulnerable populations can inadvertently cause harm to low- income households. Furthermore, policy packages will include environmental sustainability and public health considerations. The research will also contribute to accurate modelling of climate and extreme weather events at spatiotemporal level to increase the understanding of climate scientists while empowering policy makers in disaster related decision-making. Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics will be used for climate modelling and to identify optimal disaster resilient-housing urban design and planning policy packages considering projected climate change- related extreme weather scenarios between the current time and 2050. Whilst Big Climate Data is amenable to long-term climate prediction, data for localized and seasonal predictions is still uncertain and sparse. Machine Learning has potential to handle this uncertainty and data sparsity as other applications have demonstrated that it can work with either big data or sparse data.

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