March 30, 2023

An international project looking at the impact of climate change on biodiversity

An initiative led by UFSCar involving universities in the United States and New Zealand and receiving support from FAPESP and the National Science Foundation (Photo: Andreas Tribett/Wikimedia Commons)

March 17, 2023

FAPESP Agency By comparing insect communities in streams in Brazil and the United States, a group of researchers seeks to understand the effects of climate change on the regulation of aquatic biodiversity, something that is still unknown.

The project is led by scientists from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and includes collaborators from New Zealand (University of Canterbury) and the United States (UCLA, Virginia State University and University of Maryland).

supported By FAPESP and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team is coordinated by Victor Satoru SaitoProfessor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UFSCar.

For three years, the project plans to study insects in the biological communities of streams that have a larval stage in the water and become terrestrial as adults, as is the case with dragonflies. The aim is to understand whether the organization of these communities over time differs in tropical and temperate sites.

“Are the species always the same or do they change from month to month? What is the magnitude of these differences? Are there exchanges of all species from summer to winter, or do they remain the same?”

To answer these questions, scientists will produce monthly samples from these communities in streams in both countries, in a coordinated and standardized manner. With this, they intend to study the entire life cycle of these insects, from aquatic life when they emerge from the water, as winged adults, to reproduction and the introduction of eggs back into streams. Emphasis will also be placed on their demographics, taking into account population dynamics, with information such as the number of individuals, birth rate, and death rate.

The lack of still existing knowledge about how insect biodiversity directly responds to climate change is due, above all, to the lack of coordinated studies at different latitudes, allowing direct comparison of the effect of temperature on organisms.

“With the data collected, we will try to build models that allow us to predict how each community will respond to future climate changes,” the UFSCar professor elaborated.

The sites for analysis are still being identified, but Saito adds that, here in Brazil, they are likely streams within Intervales State Park, located in southern Sao Paulo state. “This conservation unit is home to a well-preserved Atlantic forest and a well-known and well-known hydrographic basin,” he explained.

The professor says that water insects are often used as environmental indicators. Thus, the study is also a way to try to predict how ecosystems will respond to changes, to think about precautions in the face of undesirable changes in the ecosystem, such as the loss of species of fishing interest or the decline in water quality.