I. Consequences of Amazon Deforestation
II. Amazon Ecosystem Dynamics at the Agro-industrial Frontier
Part I. Consequences of Amazon Deforestation
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The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical forest on earth. It absorbs vast amounts of CO2, and is large enough to impact local and global weather. Dr. Christopher Neill describes the dramatic changes in the Amazon ecosystem that have resulted from deforestation for agriculture. Forest fragmentation has caused more species extinction, more fires and increased concern about drought. Neill ends his talk on a brighter note, pointing out that government intervention and modified agricultural practices have decreased Amazon deforestation by 75% in the past 10 years.
In his second lecture, Neill and his group go to the Tanguro Ranch in the southeastern Amazon of Brazil. The farm is at the interface between agricultural land and forest and provides a perfect area to study how expansion and intensification of cropping practices influence croplands watersheds, and the surrounding forest. Neill’s research explores how to prevent further deforestation by intensifying agriculture on already cleared areas, and how to do this without increasing the environmental impacts to weather, air and water.
Dr. Christopher Neill is a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in Falmouth, MA. Before joining the WHRC, Neill spent 4 years as Director of the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory, where he was a scientist from 1996-2016 and retains a position as a Fellow.
Neill investigates how changes in land use, such as increased agriculture or residential development, impact the surrounding ecosystems. He works in the Amazon rainforest and in coastal regions of Massachusetts. Neill was a Fulbright scholar in Brazil in 2007 and a Bullard Fellow at Harvard University in 2010. Learn more about Dr. Neill’s research at his lab website.
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Brando, P. M., et. al. (2014) Abrupt increases in Amazonian tree mortality due to drought–fire interactions. PNAS 111:6347–6352
Davidson, E.A., et. al. (2012) The Amazon Basin in transition. Nature 481:321-329
Nepstad, D., et. al. (2014) Slowing Amazon deforestation through public policy and interventions in beef and soy supply chains. Science 344:1118-1123
Riskin, S. H., et. al. (2017) Solute and sediment export from Amazon forest and soybean watersheds. Ecological Applications 27: 193-207
Silvério, D.V., et. al. (2015) Agricultural expansion dominates climate changes in southeastern Amazonia: the overlooked non-GHG forcing. Environmental Research Letters 10:104015
Neill, C. and M. N. Macedo. 2016. The rise of Brazil's globally-connected Amazon soybean agriculture. Pages 167-186, in M. Gutmann and J. Lesser (eds), Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century, University of California Press.