|Town/Region||Parque Nacional da Serra dos Orgãos|
|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||17 Dec 2013|
Palms represent an ecologically important group and are very abundant in the Atlantic Forest, which is considered a hotspot for conservation, with ca. of 40 species, many of them endemic. This group is considered as an important food source, since many species produce a high quantity of fruits that are consumed by a plenty of frugivorous species. Some palms are considered as a keystone resource, since they produce a high quantity of fruits in a period of resource scarcity. Euterpe edulis is considered a keystone species in the Atlantic Forest hotspot. Many local populations of this palm were reduced or extinct due the exploitation of your edible palm heart that causes the death of the plant. The large populations are now restricted almost exclusively to protected areas.
This study will identify the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on the altitudinal distribution and abundance of this species in the Atlantic Forest. Specifically, through the study of populations dynamics, seed addition and local adaptation experiments of this species, it is possible to furnish a better understanding on which factors causes the decrease of the abundance with elevation, and which ones limits the upper boundary of the altitudinal range of this species. Moreover, this study will verify the performance of this species along an altitudinal gradient, providing information of how it will respond to a climatic change.
Therefore, this work will provide important information that can be used as guidelines for conservation and restoration of this species. Such guidelines are specially needed, since this palm is a keystone and endangered species, which occur in a threatened ecosystem with a high species diversity and endemism. Moreover, this study may contribute to create sustainable harvesting practices by local people of the palm heart of this species, considered as one of the most important non-timber forest products in Atlantic Forest. This knowledge can be used to determine the risk of local extinction and the effects of climatic change on this species, providing guidelines for its conservation and restoration. The conservation and restoration of populations of E. edulis is critical to the maintenance of frugivorous in a threatened ecosystem that has a high species diversity and endemism.
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