SBS researchers collaborating in Brazil

30 May 2016
SBS news

The School of Biological Sciences is currently involved in two long-term international partnerships involving researchers from the University of São Paulo, UFF (Niteroi), and UFRPE in Brazil investigating the terrestrial and marine ecology of the Brazilian coast and islands.

Professor Kendall Clements has just returned in May from a one week trip to Arraial do Cabo and the Abrolhos reef complex, where diving teams collected comparative data on nutritional ecology and demography of nominally herbivorous fishes for a comparative study along a latitudinal gradient.

“The opportunity to work in Brazil has given me a great insight into the distinctive Atlantic reef fish fauna, as my previous experience was limited to the Indo-Pacific. My collaborative work with Dr Cadu Ferreira and graduate students allows us to combine analytical approaches available through our facilities in New Zealand with access to the diversity of reef organisms in Brazil.”

The team also performed visual censuses and video-plots to analyse herbivorous reef fish abundance and reef accretion/bioerosion experiments led by Conservation International, an organisation co-located in the School of Biological Sciences.

Meanwhile Dr. James Russell returned in March from a two week field trip to the remote Fernando de Noronha island, where researchers collected population density data on introduced species including invasive rats and tegu – a reptile native to continental Brazil but invasive on the oceanic island.

“Working with the Brazilian conservation scientists and managers on Fernando de Noronha has been a great opportunity to show-case the science and methods we use in New Zealand to advance island conservation, and introducing new tools like the DOC200 trap are creating opportunities for rapid advancement of island conservation here”.

While in Brazil Professor Clements contributed to teaching a course on the ecology, evolution and conservation of reef fishes for graduate students from throughout Brazil, while Dr. Russell gave a plenary address to the head office in Brasilia of the government environment department ICMBio on the topic of management of invasive species in protected areas of Brazil. These collaborative projects demonstrate the breadth of research undertaken by scientists in the Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour section of the School of Biological Sciences. The collaborations of Professor Clements and Dr. Russell are funded by CNPq and CAPES 3-year grants, respectively.