09/05/2022 02:42

Serrapilheira renews support for projects in ecology and geosciences

  • Institutional

Three scientists supported by the institute will receive up to R$ 1 million each

Serrapilheira announced on Thursday, March 31, the name of three scientists who will have their grants renewed and will receive R$ 700,000 each, in addition to an optional bonus of R$ 300,000 destined to the integration and training of people from groups underrepresented in science. They are Cecilia Siliansky de Andreazzi (Fiocruz/RJ), Danilo Neves (UFMG/MG) and Fabrício Caxito (UFMG/MG).

The researchers were initially selected through the 3rd public call for science support and received a grant of R$ 100,000 –seed money – for one year. After this period, they were reassessed by international ad hoc reviewers and by a panel of scientists working in Brazil. The projects seek to answer fundamental questions in ecology, a field in which the institute has been investing in recent years, and in geosciences.

Meet the three scientists:

Cecilia Siliansky de Andreazzi

Project: Ecology of disease meta-communities: Moving from the dilution effect to diluting landscapes

Cecilia Andreazzi, a biologist and researcher at Fiocruz, seeks to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that regulate the dynamics of the relationships between parasites and hosts and how they are affected by changes in the landscape. In the first year of the project, she presented a model of changes in a small mammal community in a forest cover gradient and its consequences for host-parasite networks. Her group showed that forest loss leads to significant changes in interactions, increasing the number of potential parasites despite the “poorer” host communities. Now, Andreazzi intends to apply statistical and machine learning tools to empirical data to understand how land use, environmental covariates, species characteristics and phylogenetic kinship determine the probability of pairwise interactions.

Danilo Neves

Project: Niche evolution in tropical biomes and its consequences

Neves, a Professor at UFMG, wants to understand why there are so many plant species in tropical regions and the processes responsible for the biodiversity patterns we observe today. His fundamental question is: what is the evolutionary time and rate of biome change in tropical plant lineages? Throughout the project, Neves developed a database with detailed ecological and genetic information on more than 1,000 legume species from the five main tropical biomes of Brazil and published articles in PNAS, Nature, Biotropica and Scientific Reports. In his next steps, Neves intends to study the evolution in climatic and edaphic (soil) niches of South American plants and, from there, provide the first large-scale evaluation of the relative importance of climate and soil factors in driving diversification in tropical plants.

Fabrício Caxito

Project: MOBILE – mountain ranges and the emergence of complex life on Earth

The geologist – and philosopher – Caxito, a Professor at UFMG, wants to understand if the formation processes of the planet’s first mountain ranges somehow influenced the deposition of large amounts of nutrients and oxygen production in the oceans, enabling the emergence of primitive life. The research is interdisciplinary and sits at the interface between the geological, biological and geochemical sciences. Until now, the project has yielded two prominent publications in Scientific Reports and a technical book and attracted collaborators from around the world.


Meet the panel of reviewers who participated in the selection:

Sonia Esperança, National Science Foundation (emeritus)

Thereza Soares, UFPE

Paulo Guimarães, USP

Claudia Azevedo-Ramos, UFPA

Keti Tenenblat, UNB

Daniel Gustavo Barci, UERJ

Altigran Soares da Silva, UFAM

Deborah Schechtman, USP

André Báfica, UFSC

Paulo Teixeira, USP

  • Topics
  • Ecology
  • Public Call
  • Science Support