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SP4 Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Lupe [1]

Sub-Project Structure

This sub-project contains three research modules (RM1-Plant Biodiversity and Carbon-Sequestration, RM2-Animal Biodiversity and Pest Control, RM3-Aquatic Biodiversity and Water Supply) reflecting the three corresponding ecosystem services. Together, the RMs provide an assessment of terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. The overall objectives are to optimize the trade-offs between ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation, and to recommend innovative land use strategies. Specifically we aim to explore:

  • The impact of land use practices on faunal and floristic diversity patterns in the study area
  • The potential of Caatinga vegetation for C sequestration, reforestation and biochar production
  • The relevance of faunal biodiversity to pest control
  • The potential of the reservoir’s margin zone as a buffer system for water supply.

Click on the following links to access more information available within our project: Booklet Zé da Jia (Portuguese), Booklet Caatinga [2] (Portuguese), Booklet Education Days (Portuguese), Serra da Canoa Report [3] (Portuguese) and presentations (see below).

Main Results

The results show a detrimental impact of heavy grazing on plant and herpetofauna diversityand on C stocks in soil and vegetation. However, grazing at intermediate animal loads may contribute to the conservation of typical species in the area if source habitats are efficiently protected. The population structure of key tree species implies an expansion of caatinga habitats in the study area.

Irrigation farming adds a novel component to the landscape with a particular but rather homogeneous species assemblage and a pronounced turn-over in comparison to the original vegetation. In addition, agrarian use with irrigation leads to a notable gain in biomass C stocks but also to nutrient inflows into the river. The latter is aggravated by changing water levels which also enhance eutrophication by remobilizing nutrients.

Our results fit into greater frameworks, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity. During the Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 in 2016 taking place in Cancún (Mexico), Innovate was represented by Arne Cierjacks. He presented how our approach of stakeholder-based land-use adaptation can contribute to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its relating Aichi targets. The poster can be downloaded here [4]. 


To mitigate negative consequences of climate change through a high vegetation cover, grazing should be performed at low animal loads. Conversion to agrarian land should aim at sustainable production of perennial crops (coco, banana, guava) which includes avoiding herbicide use in coco and banana plantations and preferring organic fertilizer (goat manure). In addition, the field margins play a major role for agrarian biodiversity and should be preserved. For the water management of the reservoir, a constant water level is preferable in order to minimize remobilization of nutrients (N, P) to the water body. Overall, current conservation strategy which combines the delimitation of priority areas (Serra da Canoa) and scattered reservaslegais for the facilitation of species migration seems promising to increase climate change resilience of the study area and is part of our implementation strategy.

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