Grant Recipients Conference, Argentina 2017
The conference was held between October, 19th and October, 21st in San Miguel de Tucumán, Tucumán, Argentina, and organized by the Instituto de Ecología Regional (CONICET/National University of Tucumán). During these three days we had 25 participants for almost all the provinces of the country and all the ecoregions of Argentina, who participated both in an open workshop to the public and students, and in an internal workshop aiming at generating a review article of the threats and opportunities for conservation in the different ecoregions of Argentina. In order to guarantee the success of the internal workshop, previous virtual work beginning in March, 2017 was held with the participants, consisting on the generation of a draft of the situation of the threats and opportunities of the ecoregion of expertise of each participant. This previous virtual work served as the basis under which we worked during the internal workshop.
As organizers we are extremely pleased with the results and absolutely grateful to RSG for the opportunity. This conference served both for academic and educational purposes at the local and national scale, and we learnt a lot about the organization of these kind of events.
What were the main objectives of the RSG Conference?
The main objective of the conference was to gather a group of conservation scientists of different ecoregions and institutions of Argentina (who have been awarded with a Rufford grant at some point of their careers) to evaluate the current environmental issues of the country from a multidisciplinary approach. In order to achieve this, we proposed the following specific objectives:
►Articulate aspects of conservation biology with aspects of land use science (e.g.land sparing/land sharing; Anthropocene) for an integrated analysis of current environmental issues;
► Identify the challenges for conservation in Argentina in the terrestrial ecoregions of Argentina, under scenarios of increasing land use change and influence of distant agents of change, focusing on 1- common situations among ecoregions and 2- specific situations involving specific ecoregions;
► Elaborate an article to be published in a local peer-reviewed journal (Ecología Austral) that summarizes the threats and opportunities for conservation under scenarios of increasing land use change in the terrestrial ecoregions of Argentina;
► Have an open workshop for students and the general public: “Update on conservation issues of Argentina”, to be held at the Natural Sciences Faculty, Tucuman University, consisting on the presentation of the RSG projects developed by the participants of the workshop, and of two conferences held by Keynote speakers. During this workshop, tell the local community about the role of Rufford Foundation in supporting conservation projects and actions in our country.
What was the impact of the RSG Conference?
We are very pleased with the large impact the RSG Conference had, both for the Rufford grantees and the local community and students who participated in the open workshop.
• Were there examples of where Rufford Funding has enabled disproportionately large and tangible conservation impacts to be delivered?
Yes, there were several examples of the role of Rufford Funding in enabling large and tangible conservation impacts to be delivered, both as academic publications and as conservation actions. Furthermore, all the presentations highlighted it. Certain examples include reforestation in Sierras de Cordoba (Daniel Renison), and conservation of big cats (Yaguareté and Puma) in Chaco and Misiones.
Renison’s presentation. “Message: it is possible and very important to restore a portion of our ecosystems. Thank you for your attention.”
• Were there examples of locally developed approaches to biodiversity management?
Yes, there were examples of locally developed approaches to biodiversity management. Among other examples, the presentation of Daniela Rodriguez showed the success of approaches linking environmental education programs and research for the assessment of the impact of different anthropic activities over the diversity of mammals in the Monte ecoregion.
• Were there examples of how has Rufford support helped early career conservationists achieve their goals?
Yes. All the presentations showed how the support of Rufford and other institutions allowed achieving their goals. The following image shows one example (the presentation of Sebastian Ballari and his work assessing the influence of two exotic species in the conservation of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche, and the role of Rufford grants in the success of his project).
• Were there examples of how Rufford funding has helped support work on species and ecosystems that are traditionally difficult to fundraise for?
Yes, there were examples of how Rufford funding helped support work on fragile and distant ecosystems, such as the Puna and Altos Andes, including the work of Andrea Izquierdo (see image below) with wetlands in these ecosystems and the project of Enrique Derlindati, with flamingos in the same ecoregions.
• Were there examples of how Rufford grants have provided seed funding to build capacity, identify conservation needs and develop replicable models for future projects?
Yes, several examples showed the role of Rufford as a provider of seed funding for capacity building and identification of conservation needs. One of these examples include the project presented by Camila Deustch (see image below), in which they are developing a strategy for the conservation and management of Ceratophrys ornata in the Pampas ecoregion, a species that is currently under threat and that has in general a “bad name” for the local inhabitants. One of the things they achieved is community sampling, which facilitates both data acquisition and commiting people to the conservation of the species.
• Were there examples of how Rufford funding has helped train a future generation of conservationists?
Most of the presentations showed how Rufford funding helped training a future generation of conservationists, both because certain projects were part of PhD thesis of professionals who have now acquired their PhD title and are still dedicated to conservation research and actions, and because certain projects involved environmental education and conservation training (e.g. restoration school in Cordoba, Daniel Renison; conservation of a forest fragment in the Espinal, Mariana Pereyra). Also, several projects involved a larger community, beyond the academy, in field sampling and acquisition of data.
• Were there examples of where Rufford grantees have published important biodiversity information?
Yes. Certain projects involved large field-sampling efforts which derived in the generation of important biodiversity information, including databases of birds (Leandro Macchi), trees (Ignacio Gasparri) and medium-large mammals (Verónica Quiroga) in the Chaco, and the acquisition of data of the ecology of threatened species such as Priodontes maximus (Yamil di Blanco) and Panthera onca (Verónica Quiroga, Agustin Paviolo); and amphibians (Camila Deustch, Julián Lescano). Most of these results have been or are in the process to be published in important international academic journals.
Issues raised and any recommendations made
Were there any other issues specifically raised by attendees? Also, were there any recommendations that arose as a result of the conference?
One of the issues that raised by attendees was how to link conservation research and science with conservation practice and policy. The last conference of the open workshop was held by Ing. Fernando Jaramillo, the director of the most important NGO of Argentina (Fundación Vida Silvestre, Argentina), and the discussion after his presentation largely involved how these links can be further established.
List of participants and abstracts
Please provide a full list of those who attended the conference, including details of the support they received from The Rufford Foundation. Also add a copy of the conference agenda and timetable and abstracts from all the presentations.
1. Dra. Andrea Izquierdo (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant and Booster Grant Award)
The High Andean wetlands are a key functional unit in Puna and Andean regions. They contribute a significant proportion of primary productivity, maintain vertebrate populations, and regulate hydrological resources, which have high incidence in urban and agricultural areas downstream. This project develops spatial conservation planning strategies for subtropical Argentine High Andean wetlands based on the most pressing threats expected for the coming decades.
2. Dr. Enrique Derlindati (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus) is the rarest flamingo in the world with 34,000 individuals. It is restricted to the Andes wetlands during the breeding season and uses lowland wetlands during the non-breeding season. It is likely that this behaviour conditions the reproductive success of this species at the Andes. In order to understand the role of the lowland wetlands in the annual cycle of the Andean flamingos, we must monitor their abundance and record habitat use and activity patterns at this key site during the whole non- breeding period (April-September). In Melincué we carried out winter surveys by recording flamingo abundances and activity patterns in the different microhabitats used by this species.
3. Dra. Lía Montti (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
The focus of this research is to quantify the actual and future distribution of Ligustrum and compare with the native forest with spatial models in future scenerios, to evaluate the ecological consequences for biodiversity, carbon sequestration and watersheds. Particularly we identify suitable environment conditions for the species and predict potential invasion for 2030 and 2050 and with this information we orient landscape management policies (e.g. early warning systems, monitoring, mechanic control of early invading individuals, specific restoration techniques of native species).
4. Dra Sofía Nanni (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant).
My RSG projects focused on 1- assessing the drivers and quantifying land cover change in a subtropical watershed where the biophysical and socioeconomic conditions mirror those of larger areas of Latin America and 2- identifying the consequences of such changes (reforestation in the highlands and deforestation in the lowlands) over a certain ecosystem services (food production, watershed protection and carbon sequestration) and the diversity of birds and medium-large mammals.
5. Lic. Flavia Mazzini (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Exotic livestock grazing and browsing affect directly and/or indirectly the mountain forest around the world. Yungas, in particular, has a centuries-long cattle grazing history in a unique forest with structural complexity appropriate for studying forest-livestock interactions. In this project I investigated: the pattern of grazing, cattle selectivity on tree species, the effect of different relative abundances of domestic cattle on the understory; and determined the importance of the plant traits (leaf toughness and spinescence) and functional traits (foliar phenology) as explanatory factors affecting browsing and forage selection pattern.
6. Dra. Cecilia Blundo (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Premontane forests (PF) are the lowest vegetation unit (400-800 m) in Yungas forest (Subtropical Andean forest), in Northwestern Argentina. PF are one of the most diverse subtropical forests, with about a dozen of timber tree species. Currently, logging is a major activity in these forests. The aim of this research is to identify and analyse the factors influencing population dynamics and structure, demographic patterns, and regeneration of timber tree species in Premontane forest that differ in timber use and last logging intervention.
7. Lic. Alejandro Schaaf (Rufford Small Grant and 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Tree cavities play a critical role in the life history of cavity-using species, and thus are an important structural feature of forests. However, some common forest management practices can have a profound negative effect on cavity quantity and quality. This study provides information about forest structure, abundance of cavities and densities of hole-nesting birds in different types of subtropical forests in in northwestern Argentina, and investigates the utilization of trees and holes by all hole-nesting birds.
8. Dr. Ignacio Gasparri (Rufford Small Grant and 2nd Rufford Small Grant) Abstract.
In West Formosa, dry Forest is less degraded than in others regions of Argentinean Chaco. In this area of 5 million hectares, there are communal lands distributed in the region with different forest conservation status, but in most cases, with better forest situation than the neighbouring areas. Major activities of this project include deforestation mapping and the development of a model to identify areas with high probability to be deforested.
9. Lic. Sebastián Aguiar (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
In pace with increasing global population and per capita income, Chaco ecoregion ecosystems are being targeted as potential commodity providers. Indeed, Northern Argentina dry Chaco is one of the ecoregions with the highest deforestation rates in the world due to crop and pastureland expansion. The aim of this project is to map the degree and extent of forest degradation in Northern Argentina Dry Chaco. For this we will capitalize on remote sensing methodologies and field work to describe key structural and functional attributes of vegetation.
10. Dr. Leandro Macchi (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
In my project I investigated the balances between human systems and natural areas from the dry Chaco of Argentina, considering: economic production, biodiversity and biomass stocks. The dry Chaco is a major deforestation hotspot and one of the least protected areas of the world. I combined field and satellite information to assess the trade-offs between economic and conservation goals. I modelled the relationship of these components with environmental heterogeneity and estimated which combinations of land use and natural covers maximize this relation.
11. Dra. Eugenia Periago (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
In the Gran Chaco Americano Ecoregional Assessment (2005), The Nature Conservancy suggested that Chancaní Reserve and its surrounding areas are priority areas for conservation. Nonetheless, the surrounding privately-owned areas are subjected to land use of various intensities, with a recent trend towards annual crops and intensive cattle-raising. Patches of relict primary chacoan forest are vital for the survival of our native flora and fauna but Chancaní Reserve is a patch of pristine forest submerged in a matrix of cultivated land. How are gray brocket deer populations coping with the encroachment on their natural habitat?
12. Dra. Verónica Quiroga (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Research on jaguars and pumas in the Argentine Chaco is extremely limited, and the information vacuum is an important obstacle to conservation efforts. We are studying the ecology of both species, including distribution, density, prey availability and sympatric relations between them determining the principal conservation problems facing these species in the region. The density of the jaguar at Copo’s National Park is much smaller than we expected. This highlights the urgent need to take action in managing the species in the region much earlier than we expected. The fact that we obtained data on the species is an important result because it confirms that the species is still in the region despite the low density.
13. Dra. Mariana Pereyra (Rufford Small Grant).
The present project has as its ultimate objective to initiate actions in order to generate a protected area of an Espinal relict of over 800 ha. It should be noted that this is the largest remaining forest fragment of this phytogeographic region in the centre of the province of Córdoba. Considering the high rates of deforestation in Argentina, our work has great significance in terms of conservation, especially in this region where most of the forest left is relictual. In this way, we aim to know the diversity of mammals in the area in order to highlight its importance as a refuge for many wild species.
14. Dr. Julián Lescano (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
This presentation synthetized the results of the research involving the importance of different
threats over the diversity of amphibians in different landscapes of Cordoba province, Argentina, from Chaco dry areas to high-altitude grasslands. The information obtained ismake an important contribution to the development of conservation strategies and management recommendations for policy makers, administrators, park rangers, forest industries and local people to assure the long-term survival of this amphibian communities and their threatened habitat.
15. Dr. Daniel Renison (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant, Booster Grant, Continuation Grant).
Present day Mountain forests of Central Argentina represent less than 5 % of their previous extension and in some areas more than 90% of their biomass is composed of exotic invasive species. This has had drastic consequences in our water resources, wildlife, carbon storage and other ecological services. In 1997 I started a restoration project in the extremely degraded high Mountains of central Argentina with friends, volunteers, lots of enthusiasm, almost no experience and very little funding - until my first RSG. After the first 2 RSGs and some local funding, we now have a nice 40-hectare valley and 5 smaller areas to show as examples of what can be done in land and forest restoration. This done, we need to foster public ecological understanding and convince politicians to massively invest economic resources in the restoration of our native forests and soils.
16. Dr. Rubén Quintana (No Rufford Grants awarded but plenty of experience and other sources of funding to hold research on the Delta e Islas del Parana ecoregion and wetlands in general – President of the Wetlands Foundation-).
This presentation synthetized the wide transformations of the landscape and the associated socio-environmental conflicts in the central wetlands of Argentina, an ecoregion undergoing deep land cover changes due to different land uses such as urbanization, intensive livestock and forestry.
17. Dra. Daniela Rodríguez (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant, Booster Grant). Abstract.
Previous studies on small mammal’s biodiversity show that the driest habitats of Monte desert, Argentina, contain the highest diversity (specific and functional) of small mammals (1ºRSG-Nº41.05.07). After these results, we investigated if a gradual change like grazing could affect these fragile ecosystems, and if so, the way it occurs (2ºRSG-Nº10862). We found a delayed effect of grazing over small mammal’s biodiversity and the presence of a degraded stable state that cross a grazing threshold (2ºRSG-Nº10862). This study aims not only to evaluate the way biodiversity changes with land use practices (particularly fire), but also to integrate local needs with scientific knowledge to stop and, if possible, to reverse desertification processes.
18. Miss Camila Deustch (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Ceratophrys ornata is one of the amphibian threatened species of the Pampas which also occurs in Brazil and Uruguay being considered a globally Near Threatened species. In Argentina the conservation status is Vulnerable but there are several reasons for which we argue the need for a re-evaluation of its status. The outcome of this project is to develop a comprehensive conservation and management strategy aimed at protecting C. ornata. Using all the results obtained, we will perform a conceptual framework to set up long-term conservation actions.
19. Mr. Mario Santos Beade (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
During the first stage of the project, we found that deer distribution at the Samborombon Bay area had changed dramatically, with less than 10% of the population living in the Northern part of the bay. We are continuing to monitor the deer population at the Bay area along with the evaluation of both the educational campaign launched last year and the feral pig trap designed. We are carrying out an analysis of satellite images and field validation in order to establish whether this apparent reduction in the area of occupancy of Pampas deer is related to changes in habitat suitability.
20. Dr. Yamil Di Blanco (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Our research proposal is aimed at establishing the first long term study on giant armadillos in Argentina. The particular objectives of this project are: to understand how landscape features affect Giant armadillo presence; to assess the role of the giant anteater as an ecosystem engineer, by evaluating the use of giant armadillo´s burrows by other medium- to large-size vertebrates and to disseminate the results of this study and promote the involvement of NGOs and Governmental Agencies in the development of a management and conservation plan for the species in the Chaco region.
21. Dr. Agustín Paviolo (Rufford Small Grant and 2nd Rufford Small Grant).
The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest is one the most endangered forest ecoregions, with about 7% of its original area remaining, mostly in the Misiones province of Argentina and neighbouring areas of Brazil. This area also contains the southernmost jaguar population in the world. The survival of this jaguar population is important for the conservation of the ecoregion. This project is providing the basic information on the ecology and size of this jaguar population. Also include the monitoring of jaguar preys species and other predators by camera traps generating a lot of information of all the medium and large terrestrial mammals of the Upper Atlantic Forest
22. Dr. Sebastián Ballari (Rufford Small Grant, 2nd Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
In Argentina non-native ungulates have been introduced as livestock and game species. Two of the most common species, wild boar and cattle, are found in most of the country including in many protected areas. This project, carried out in Nahuel Huapi National Park (Patagonia Argentina) will provide information about interactions between wild boar and cattle, two of the most widely distributed invasive ecosystem engineers in the world, as a starting point for further research involving other non-native species of importance.
23. Mg. Alejandro Huertas Herrera (Rufford Small Grant). Abstract.
Tierra del Fuego hosts the world’s southernmost forested ecosystems, and one of the last remaining wilderness areas on the planet. The deciduous Nothofagus Antarctica (ñire) are present throughout, consequently are a unique environment. Ñire forests have been associated with many ecosystem services, such as water regulation and conservation of biodiversity, soil and water quality, among others. The study will be conducted in the central-north portion of the Argentine sector of Tierra del Fuego Island, where ñire forests are dominant. Prior to data collection, this project begins by defining states and transitions on the basis of information from studies on ecology and ecophysiology of ñire forests.
24. Dra. María Piquer Rodríguez (Invited speaker, Universidad de Humboldt, Berlin/IER, Tucumán).
The presentation focused on the drivers of forest expansion in the Pampas and Chaco of Argentina, and modelling of future land change and future scenarios for conservation in these regions.
25. Dr. Ricardo Grau (Invited Speaker, Director of IER, Tucumán).
The presentation focused on the interactions between land use change and nature conservation in Latin America, and how certain processes generate novel scenarios for the conservation of nature (e.g. exotic species, the role of livestock as ecosystem engineers, etc).
26. Ing. Manuel Jaramillo (Invited Speaker, Director of Fundación Vida Silvestre, Argentina).
The presentation focused on identifying the knowledge gaps in relation to conservation science perceived by the management and decision makers, from the perspective of the Director of a major NGO of Argentina.
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