Dr. Edgardo Latrubesse Partners on $4.3 Million National Science Foundation Grant

3 02 2014

The Dynamics of Mountains, Landscapes and Climate in the Distribution and Generation of Biodiversity of the Amazon/Andean Forest

Professor Edgardo Latrubesse of the Department of Geography and the Environment has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a multidisciplinary project in the Amazon/Andean Forest. The project titled “The Dynamics of Mountains, Landscapes and Climate in the Distribution and Generation of Biodiversity of the Amazon/Andean Forest,” will be supported with the $4.3 million NSF grant. In this project, scientists from both North and South America will work together to develop an integrated understanding of how geology, biology and climate interact to shape the species distribution and biodiversity in these forests over time.

The project is an interdisciplinary effort amongst University of Texas at Austin Professors, Dr. Paul A. Baker of Duke University, University of Washington, University of Michigan, Wake Forest, ECU and international collaborators from Brazil and Peru. It will also offer educational opportunities, training, and mentoring of graduate students, who will assist with fieldwork, laboratory studies, and modeling. Dr. Latrubesse will be managing a team with a budget of about $340,000, and UT Austin Prof. Brian Horton from the Jackson School will be bringing in a comparable amount, totaling approximately $680,000 in research funds. The ultimate goal is to understand the role of environment and environmental history in genetic differentiation of populations and the origins of new species.

From the grant abstract:

“The uplift of the Andes affects Amazon climate and hydrology. Andean uplift also generates the sediment fill, nutrient supply, river routing, and soil composition of the adjacent lowland basin of the Amazon and hence affects the productivity of its forests. But the interactions are bi-directional, because changes in climate, hydrology, and sediment supply influence rates of uplift through isostatic (buoyancy) effects produced by weathering and erosion… By deciphering how environment affects biodiversity and, conversely, how genetic sequences of plant species encode the history of the physical environment, it is envisioned that molecular phylogenetics will inform geological history, much like paleontology informs stratigraphic and paleo-environmental interpretation, and a new field of geo-genomics will emerge.”

You can learn more about Prof. Latrubesse and the scope of his research at the Latrubesse Research Group Website and his faculty profile.




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