Catarina Jakovac holds a degree in biological sciences from the University of São Paulo and a master’s degree in plant biology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). She obtained her doctorate in production ecology and resource conservation from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Her academic research zigzagged between the Amazon and the Atlantic rainforest, which gave the biologist the insight to formulate the hypothesis that human activity in forests favors plant species of drier forests, harming wet ones. Even though she spends her days studying the negative effects of humans on forests, Catarina is passionate about nature and loves to spend her leisure time in the forest. She enjoys climbing, hiking, and biking in the middle of nature. At parties with friends, she never turns down an opportunity to accompany the music by playing a tambourine.
Does human action induce the transformation of wet forests into dry forests? We already know that human action leads to a loss of biodiversity and shifts in species composition. The project hypothesizes that this change is directional and favors species with traits of dry forests, thus changing the way wet forests work, making them less distinct.
Human impact selects species that are more resilient than fast-growing, such as those that invest more in surviving than in growing fast. But in humid forests, fast growth is essential to compete for light, a major driver of forest dynamics and productivity. Therefore, favoring certain species due to human activities may lead to a chain of events that will make forest formations more homogenous. Is this process already underway? What are the potential consequences of this process for biodiversity and human beings?