Forest Management and Fruit Harvest in Amazon ForestEPA Grant Number: U915248
Title: Forest Management and Fruit Harvest in Amazon Forest
Investigators: Moegenburg, Susan
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Smith, Bernice
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $76,622
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1997) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems
The objective of this research project is to determine the ecological effects of managing and harvesting non-wood products from forests. In particular, I am testing the individual effects of the management of estuarine forests in the Brazilian Amazon for native palm production, and the harvest of the palms' products. These results will be used in recommendations for management and harvest practices that minimize ecological impacts, while maximizing production.
Products from the açaí palm (Euterpe oleraea) form a staple of the diet and economy of several thousand inhabitants of the Amazon estuary. The use of the palm's two main products, fruit and "heart," or apical meristem, is known from pre-Colombian times. Within the last 30 years, however, stable markets have created an incentive to manage forest for acaí production. My research uses standard ecological methodology to test the hypotheses that: (1) forest managed for açaí differs in vegetation structure and composition and understory bird and mammal communities from non-managed forest,; and; (2) human harvest of açaí fruit affects fruit-eating animal ecology and behavior. Standard vegetation sampling, mist -netting for birds, and live- trapping for mammals all support the prediction that managed forest differs from non-managed. The lower understory stem densities and different microclimatic conditions resulting from the lower, more open forest canopy and simplified understory structure appears to have altered the suitability of managed forest as avian habitat. For example, stems of the diameters used by local species are virtually absent. The data from a replicated, large-scale (1.5 ha) fruit removal field experiment support hypothesis 2. Frugivores showed a marked decrease in their use of plots from which ~approximately 100% percent of fruit had been harvested, but showed little response to 50% percent harvest. In contrast, insect specialists revealed no such response.