Peaty postdoc in Peru, anyone?

Brand-new Postdoctoral opportunities in Amazon peatlands research

Project title: Assessing and modeling the inputs, stability and fate of soil C in Amazon peatlands and flooded forest under changing climate

Location: based in Iquitos Peru at the collaboration of Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana (Peru) and Arizona State University (USA)

Potential start and end: January 2020-December 2021 (2 years)

Motivation and opportunity: The Amazon basin is one of the major C reserves in the world and is under multiple threats derived from anthropogenic activities. These threats are affecting one key function as C sink for the world. Amazon peatlands, carbon sequestering wetlands where the rate of accumulation exceed the rate of
decomposition, have been documenting as holding high amounts of C in the Amazon, and the Pastaza-Maranon fore basin in Peru has been so far documented as holding the most in terms of area and depth (up to 10 meters). The mechanisms of accumulation and stability of soil Carbon in the Amazon is an open and intriguing area of research since the warm conditions and fast decomposition rates in the tropics, predicted soil C accumulation to be low or limited. Yet peatlands I the Amazon have reached many
m of organic soil accumulations. We seek two postdoctoral candidates to join an application and fulfill the following roles: mechanistically evaluate the rates of C inputs and stability from different biomass components among sites with contrasting NPP, geochemistry and respiration rates leading to CH4 emissions (position 1) and develop modeling approaches to estimate rates of accumulations across a broad area (spatial modeling) and model the response of such rates under water manipulation scenarios simulating climate driven increase or decrease of rain/flood (position 2).

The team include Prof Hinsby Cadillo-Quiroz (ASU), Dr Outi Lahteenoja (ASU), Rodil Tello (UNAP), David Urquiza (UNAP) among others. Salaries are highly competitive and will be given by CONCYTEC (PERU) and World Bank program. Relocation expenses are available. Candidates must have completed their PhD no earlier than 6 years ago, and have a record of publications in desired field. Please reach Dr Cadillo hinsby@asu.edu along with a CV by Sept 18 or ASAP.

Protecting Peru’s peatlands

In an article published this month in the journal Conservation Biology members of the UKTPWG and colleagues identify and map threats to the recently-described intact peatlands of the Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin in north-east Peru. They highlight the need to protect these peatlands to avoid future degradation, and identify several key pathways for conservation.

The Mauritia flexuosa palm at the site of Quistococha

The authors found that, in their case study area, the main threat to peatland health is the expansion of commercial agriculture linked to the development of new transport infrastructure, which makes it easier for companies to access remote areas.

Although some of the peatlands in the PMFB were found to fall within existing legally protected areas such as national parks, this protection is patchy, often weak, and not focused on protecting the most carbon-rich areas.

The article argues that conservation efforts should be focused in the first instance on the most carbon-rich peatlands, such as those north of the Marañón which currently lie entirely outside of the legally protected areas.

The paper’s authors are based in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews (Roucoux, Lawson), the University of Leeds (Baker), University of Edinburgh (Mitchard), University of Reading (Kelly), Instituto de Investigacion de la Amazonía Peruana (del Castillo Torres, Honorio Coronado), Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC (Draper), Arizona State University (Lahteenoja), George Mason University (Gilmore), and the Field Museum, Chicago (Vriesendorp).

Link to the accepted manuscript: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12925/full

New report from the EIA

deforrestation-by-definitionThe Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recently published a report, Deforestion by Definition, that describes some of the primary causes of deforestation in Peru, and the complexities of the issue.  Some of the areas where deforestation is rampant are close to the peatlands where members of the UK TPWG are doing important research: trying to highlight their location and document their ecological, economic and societal value before the loggers and diggers reach them.