Biodiversity and ecosystem services variability across the El Niño gradient in the Peruvian and Brazilian forests

Publishable summary: 

Tropical South American forests are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and provide multiple ecosystem services (provision, regulating, and cultural). Tropical areas are also highly vulnerable to climate change and extreme climate events such as El Niño –Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a phenomenon with global effects in precipitation regimens and temperature patterns. However, despite the critical importance of tropical ecosystems for the sustainability of the planet, multidimensional studies investigating the changes in above and belowground biodiversity and ecosystem function to changes in climatic variability are largely lacking, hampering our capacity to protect biodiversity and local indigenous communities in tropical South American forests. The main goal of this project is to investigate the changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services, promote a fair distribution of resources, and preserve the Natural Capital in rural communities of tropical forests. Combining experimental and modelling approaches, we will study plant and soil biodiversity and ecosystem services across an elevation and climate gradient in the main area of largest impact of ENSO (Dryland coast, the Andes mountains, and the Amazonian rainforest). Our project incorporates a social perspective by working side-by-side with decision makers, local stakeholders, and rural and indigenous communities, taking in consideration the changes in ecosystem services supply and demand. The main outcome of BESTROPS is to provide new open knowledge on the cultural and social dimension of tropical ecosystems, and insight in policy making without risking the natural capital under the forecasted climate change scenarios.