Recent Submissions

  • Journal Article

    Nanoscale Mapping of Ultrafast Magnetization Dynamics with Femtosecond Lorentz Microscopy 

    Rubiano da Silva, Nara; Möller, Marcel; Feist, Armin; Ulrichs, Henning; Ropers, Claus; Schäfer, Sascha
    Physical Review X 2018; 8(3): Art. 031052
    Novel time-resolved imaging techniques for the investigation of ultrafast nanoscale magnetization dynamics are indispensable for further developments in light-controlled magnetism. Here, we introduce femtosecond Lorentz microscopy, achieving a spatial resolution below 100 nm and a temporal resolution of 700 fs, which gives access to the transiently excited state of the spin system on femtosecond timescales and its subsequent relaxation dynamics. We demonstrate the capabilities of this technique by spatiotemporally mapping the light-induced demagnetization of a single magnetic vortex structure and quantitatively extracting the evolution of the magnetization field after optical excitation. Tunable electron imaging conditions allow for an optimization of spatial resolution or field sensitivity, enabling future investigations of ultrafast internal dynamics of magnetic topological defects on a 10 nm length scale.
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  • Journal Article

    CaosDB—Research Data Management for Complex, Changing, and Automated Research Workflows 

    Fitschen, Timm; Schlemmer, Alexander; Hornung, Daniel; tom Wörden, Henrik; Parlitz, Ulrich; Luther, Stefan
    Data 2019; 4(2)
    We present CaosDB, a Research Data Management System (RDMS) designed to ensure seamless integration of inhomogeneous data sources and repositories of legacy data in a FAIR way. Its primary purpose is the management of data from biomedical sciences, both from simulations and experiments during the complete research data lifecycle. An RDMS for this domain faces particular challenges: research data arise in huge amounts, from a wide variety of sources, and traverse a highly branched path of further processing. To be accepted by its users, an RDMS must be built around workflows of the scientists and practices and thus support changes in workflow and data structure. Nevertheless, it should encourage and support the development and observation of standards and furthermore facilitate the automation of data acquisition and processing with specialized software. The storage data model of an RDMS must reflect these complexities with appropriate semantics and ontologies while offering simple methods for finding, retrieving, and understanding relevant data. We show how CaosDB responds to these challenges and give an overview of its data model, the CaosDB Server and its easy-to-learn CaosDB Query Language. We briefly discuss the status of the implementation, how we currently use CaosDB, and how we plan to use and extend it.
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  • Journal Article

    Mitigation efforts will not fully alleviate the increase in water scarcity occurrence probability in wheat-producing areas 

    Trnka, Miroslav; Feng, Song; Semenov, Mikhail A.; Olesen, Jørgen E.; Kersebaum, Kurt Christian; Rötter, Reimund P.; Semerádová, Daniela; Klem, Karel; Huang, Wei; Ruiz-Ramos, Margarita; et al.
    Hlavinka, PetrMeitner, JanBalek, JanHavlík, PetrBüntgen, Ulf
    Science Advances 2019; 5(9): Art. eaau2406
    Global warming is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of severe water scarcity (SWS) events, which negatively affect rain-fed crops such as wheat, a key source of calories and protein for humans. Here, we develop a method to simultaneously quantify SWS over the world’s entire wheat-growing area and calculate the probabilities of multiple/sequential SWS events for baseline and future climates. Our projections show that, without climate change mitigation (representative concentration pathway 8.5), up to 60% of the current wheat-growing area will face simultaneous SWS events by the end of this century, compared to 15% today. Climate change stabilization in line with the Paris Agreement would substantially reduce the negative effects, but they would still double between 2041 and 2070 compared to current conditions. Future assessments of production shocks in food security should explicitly include the risk of severe, prolonged, and near-simultaneous droughts across key world wheat-producing areas.
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  • Journal Article

    Environmental Governance Meets Reality: A Micro-Scale Perspective on Sustainability Certification Schemes for Oil Palm Smallholders in Jambi, Sumatra 

    Martens, Katrin; Kunz, Yvonne; Rosyani, Ir.; Faust, Heiko
    Society & Natural Resources p.1-17
    Multi-stakeholder sustainability certification schemes have become a favorite instrument for applying good governance, though studies indicate their inefficiency at the producer level. In this study, we used a mixed-method approach to first, map the institutional context of independent oil-palm smallholders in rural Sumatra while, second, reflecting upon the impact of the Smallholder Standard proposed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on smallholder management practices. We hold that non-recognition of micro-scale perspectives within governance processes may partially explain noncompliance with certification principles among smallholders. The Smallholder Standard appears unable to mitigate challenges important for smallholders, who in turn cannot properly comply with it, due to problems including weather instability and high management costs. We suggest that certification schemes need to work on some overlooked but essential preconditions of good governance, namely gaining micro-level visibility and acceptance.
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  • Journal Article

    Texture Development of Clay‐Rich Sediments Across the Costa Rica Subduction Zone 

    Kuehn, Rebecca; Stipp, Michael; Leiss, Bernd
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth p.7756-7770
    During sedimentation, burial, and deformation at active continental margins, clay‐rich sediments develop crystallographic preferred orientations (textures) due to the progressive alignment of phyllosilicates. Such textures help to interpret sedimentation and compaction conditions as well as tectonic processes at convergent margins. At the Costa Rica Trench, subduction and plate boundary deformation between the downgoing oceanic Cocos Plate and the overriding Caribbean Plate was investigated during Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expeditions 334 and 344 within the Costa Rica Seismogenesis Project. Samples of varying depths from the Cocos Plate, the frontal prism, and the slope of the Caribbean Plate were analyzed regarding their composition and texture. Composition is quite similar for all sample locations of the hemipelagic section across the trench as determined by X‐ray powder analysis. Texture analysis reveals that phyllosilicates in samples from the incoming plate show in general weaker textures than those from upper and middle slope of the overriding plate. Samples from the frontal accretionary prism, however, mostly correspond to the incoming plate fabric according to their oceanic origin. Texture intensity depends on the internal parameters grain size and shape, porosity, and composition as well as compaction and tectonics. In samples from the continental wedge and the frontal accretionary prism, we are able to distinguish tectonically undisturbed compacted sediments from core sections that suffered faulting and folding due to subduction‐related deformation. This helps to constrain a more detailed image of sedimentary compaction and localized as well as distributed deformation across the active continental margin offshore Costa Rica.
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  • Journal Article

    Different response of bacteria, archaea and fungi to process parameters in nine full‐scale anaerobic digesters 

    Langer, Susanne G.; Gabris, Christina; Einfalt, Daniel; Wemheuer, Bernd; Kazda, Marian; Bengelsdorf, Frank R.
    Microbial Biotechnology 2019; 12(6) p.1210-1225
    Biogas production is a biotechnological process realized by complex bacterial, archaeal and likely fungal communities. Their composition was assessed in nine full-scale biogas plants with distinctly differing feedstock input and process parameters. This study investigated the actually active microbial community members by using a comprehensive sequencing approach based on ribosomal 16S and 28S rRNA fragments. The prevailing taxonomical units of each respective community were subsequently linked to process parameters. Ribosomal rRNA of bacteria, archaea and fungi, respectively, showed different compositions with respect to process parameters and supplied feedstocks: (i) bacterial communities were affected by the key factors temperature and ammonium concentration; (ii) composition of archaea was mainly related to process temperature; and (iii) relative abundance of fungi was linked to feedstocks supplied to the digesters. Anaerobic digesters with a high methane yield showed remarkably similar bacterial communities regarding identified taxonomic families. Although archaeal communities differed strongly on genus level from each other, the respective digesters still showed high methane yields. Functional redundancy of the archaeal communities may explain this effect. 28S rRNA sequences of fungi in all nine full-scale anaerobic digesters were primarily classified as facultative anaerobic Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Since the presence of ribosomal 28S rRNA indicates that fungi may be active in the biogas digesters, further research should be carried out to examine to which extent they are important players in anaerobic digestion processes.
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  • Journal Article

    Topological Stabilization and Dynamics of Self-Propelling Nematic Shells 

    Hokmabad, Babak Vajdi; Baldwin, Kyle A.; Krüger, Carsten; Bahr, Christian; Maass, Corinna C.
    Physical Review Letters 2019; 123(17): Art. 178003
    Liquid shells (e.g., double emulsions, vesicles, etc.) are susceptible to interfacial instability and rupturing when driven out of mechanical equilibrium. This poses a significant challenge for the design of liquid-shell-based micromachines, where the goal is to maintain stability and dynamical control in combination with motility. Here, we present our solution to this problem with controllable self-propelling liquid shells, which we have stabilized using the soft topological constraints imposed by a nematogen oil. We demonstrate, through experiments and simulations, that anisotropic elasticity can counterbalance the destabilizing effect of viscous drag induced by shell motility and inhibit rupturing. We analyze their propulsion dynamics and identify a peculiar meandering behavior driven by a combination of topological and chemical spontaneously broken symmetries. Based on our understanding of these symmetry breaking mechanisms, we provide routes to control shell motion via topology, chemical signaling, and hydrodynamic interactions.
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  • Journal Article

    Timing and origin of natural gas accumulation in the Siljan impact structure, Sweden 

    Drake, Henrik; Roberts, Nick M. W.; Heim, Christine; Whitehouse, Martin J.; Siljeström, Sandra; Kooijman, Ellen; Broman, Curt; Ivarsson, Magnus; Åström, Mats E.
    Nature Communications 2019; 10(1)
    Fractured rocks of impact craters may be suitable hosts for deep microbial communities on Earth and potentially other terrestrial planets, yet direct evidence remains elusive. Here, we present a study of the largest crater of Europe, the Devonian Siljan structure, showing that impact structures can be important unexplored hosts for long-term deep microbial activity. Secondary carbonate minerals dated to 80 ± 5 to 22 ± 3 million years, and thus postdating the impact by more than 300 million years, have isotopic signatures revealing both microbial methanogenesis and anaerobic oxidation of methane in the bedrock. Hydrocarbons mobilized from matured shale source rocks were utilized by subsurface microorganisms, leading to accumulation of microbial methane mixed with a thermogenic and possibly a minor abiotic gas fraction beneath a sedimentary cap rock at the crater rim. These new insights into crater hosted gas accumulation and microbial activity have implications for understanding the astrobiological consequences of impacts.
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  • Journal Article

    Predicting Spatio-temporal Time Series Using Dimension Reduced Local States 

    Isensee, Jonas; Datseris, George; Parlitz, Ulrich
    Journal of Nonlinear Science
    We present a method for both cross-estimation and iterated time series prediction of spatio-temporal dynamics based on local modelling and dimension reduction techniques. Assuming homogeneity of the underlying dynamics, we construct delay coordinates of local states and then further reduce their dimensionality through Principle Component Analysis. The prediction uses nearest neighbour methods in the space of dimension reduced states to either cross-estimate or iteratively predict the future of a given frame. The effectiveness of this approach is shown for (noisy) data from a (cubic) Barkley model, the Bueno-Orovio–Cherry–Fenton model, and the Kuramoto–Sivashinsky model.
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  • Journal Article

    Synthesis of Gb3 Glycosphingolipids with Labeled Head Groups: Distribution in Phase-Separated Giant Unilamellar Vesicles 

    Sibold, Jeremias; Kettelhoit, Katharina; Vuong, Loan; Liu, Fangyuan; Werz, Daniel B.; Steinem, Claudia
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition
    The receptor lipid Gb3 is responsible for the specific internalization of Shiga toxin (STx) into cells. The head group of Gb3 defines the specificity of STx binding, and the backbone with different fatty acids is expected to influence its localization within membranes impacting membrane organization and protein internalization. To investigate this influence, a set of Gb3 glycosphingolipids labeled with a BODIPY fluorophore attached to the head group was synthesized. C24 fatty acids, saturated, unsaturated, α-hydroxylated derivatives, and a combination thereof, were attached to the sphingosine backbone. The synthetic Gb3 glycosphingolipids were reconstituted into coexisting liquid-ordered (lo )/liquid-disordered (ld ) giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), and STx binding was verified by fluorescence microscopy. Gb3 with the C24:0 fatty acid partitioned mostly in the lo phase, while the unsaturated C24:1 fatty acid distributes more into the ld phase. The α-hydroxylation does not influence its partitioning.
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  • Journal Article

    Classification of Pigs with Tail Lesions from Different Farrowing and Rearing Systems during Rearing and Fattening Period 

    Gentz, Maria; Lange, Anita; Zeidler, Sebastian; Traulsen, Imke
    Animals 2019; 9(11): Art. 949
    The aim of the present study was to classify and characterise pigs with tail lesions using a combined parameter based on the frequency and duration of tail lesions and to find out whether biologically relevant groups could be separated by cluster analysis. Pigs (n = 677, 50% docked, 50% undocked) from three farrowing systems, as follows: (1) Conventional farrowing crate (FC), (2) free farrowing (FF), and (3) a group housing lactating sows (GH), were divided into two rearing systems as follows: (1) A conventional system (CONV) and (2) a wean-to-finish (W-F) system. Within 18 assessment weeks, starting after weaning, animal tail lesions were recorded individually. The animals were characterised into five lesion groups, as follows: (I) No lesions to (V) many long lasting lesions. The separability of the predefined lesion groups was checked by an animal individual lesion parameter. By using a k-means cluster analysis, it was shown that the docking status was the mainly affected parameter on the tail lesions. The separation of the groups only succeeded for the most distinct groups, I and V. The high impact of the docking status and the reduction of tail lesions by more space allowance was shown. More characterising information for the individual pigs would improve the separability of the lesion groups
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  • Journal Article

    Role of Salicylic Acid and Components of the Phenylpropanoid Pathway in Basal and Cultivar-Related Resistance of Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus) to Verticillium longisporum 

    Zheng, Xiaorong; Koopmann, Birger; von Tiedemann, Andreas
    Plants 2019; 8(11): Art. 491
    Enhanced resistance is a key strategy of controlling ‘Verticillium stem striping’ in Brassica napus caused by the soil-borne vascular pathogen Verticillium longisporum. The present study analyses the role of a broad range of components in the phenylpropanoid and salicylic acid (SA) pathways in basal and cultivar-related resistance of B. napus towards V. longisporum. A remarkable increase of susceptibility to V. longisporum in SA-deficient transgenic NahG plants indicated an essential role of SA in basal resistance of B. napus to V. longisporum. Accordingly, elevated SA levels were also found in a resistant and not in a susceptible cultivar during early asymptomatic stages of infection (7 dpi), which was associated with increased expression of PR1 and PR2. In later symptomatic stages (14 or 21 dpi), SA responses did not di er anymore between cultivars varying in resistance. In parallel, starting at 7 dpi, an overall increase in phenylpropanoid syntheses developed in the resistant cultivar, including the activity of some key enzymes, phenylalanine ammonium lyase (PAL), cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD) and peroxidase (POX) and the expression of key genes, PAL4, CCoAMT, CCR, POX. As a consequence, a remarkable increase in the levels of phenolic acids (t-cinnamic acid, p-coumaric acid, ca eic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid) occurred associated with cultivar resistance. A principal component analysis including all 27 traits studied indicated that component 1 related to SA synthesis (PR1, PR2, POX, level of free SA) and component 2 related to lignin synthesis (level of free ferulic acid, free p-coumaric acid, conjugated t-cinnamic acid) were the strongest factors to determine cultivar-related resistance. This study provides evidence that both SA and phenolic acid synthesis are important in cultivar-related resistance, however, with di erential roles during asymptomatic and symptomatic stages of infection.
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  • Journal Article

    Undesired Bulk Oxidation of LiMn2O4 Increases Overpotential of Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation in Lithium Hydroxide Electrolytes 

    Baumung, Max; Kollenbach, Leon; Xi, Lifei; Risch, Marcel
    ChemPhysChem(20) p.1-9
    Chemical and structural changes preceding electrocatalysis obfuscate the nature of the active state of electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), which calls for model systems to gain systematic insight. We investigated the effect of bulk oxidation on the overpotential of ink-casted LiMn2 O4 electrodes by a rotating ring-disk electrode (RRDE) setup and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) at the K shell core level of manganese ions (Mn-K edge). The cyclic voltammogram of the RRDE disk shows pronounced redox peaks in lithium hydroxide electrolytes with pH between 12 and 13.5, which we assign to bulk manganese redox based on XAS. The onset of the OER is pH-dependent on the scale of the reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) with a Nernst slope of -40(4) mV/pH at -5 μA monitored at the RRDE ring. To connect this trend to catalyst changes, we develop a simple model for delithiation of LiMn2 O4 in LiOH electrolytes, which gives the same Nernst slope of delithiation as our experimental data, i. e., 116(25) mV/pH. From this data, we construct an ERHE -pH diagram that illustrates robustness of LiMn2 O4 against oxidation above pH 13.5 as also verified by XAS. We conclude that manganese oxidation is the origin of the increase of the OER overpotential at pH lower than 14 and also of the pH dependence on the RHE scale. Our work highlights that vulnerability to transition metal redox may lead to increased overpotentials, which is important for the design of stable electrocatalysts.
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  • Journal Article

    Influence of Drone Altitude, Image Overlap, and Optical Sensor Resolution on Multi-View Reconstruction of Forest Images 

    Seifert, Erich; Seifert, Stefan; Vogt, Holger; Drew, David; van Aardt, Jan; Kunneke, Anton; Seifert, Thomas
    Remote Sensing 2019; 11(10): Art. 1252
    Recent technical advances in drones make them increasingly relevant and important tools for forest measurements. However, information on how to optimally set flight parameters and choose sensor resolution is lagging behind the technical developments. Our study aims to address this gap, exploring the effects of drone flight parameters (altitude, image overlap, and sensor resolution) on image reconstruction and successful 3D point extraction. This study was conducted using video footage obtained from flights at several altitudes, sampled for images at varying frequencies to obtain forward overlap ratios ranging between 91 and 99%. Artificial reduction of image resolution was used to simulate sensor resolutions between 0.3 and 8.3 Megapixels (Mpx). The resulting data matrix was analysed using commercial multi-view reconstruction (MVG) software to understand the effects of drone variables on (1) reconstruction detail and precision, (2) flight times of the drone, and (3) reconstruction times during data processing. The correlations between variables were statistically analysed with a multivariate generalised additive model (GAM), based on a tensor spline smoother to construct response surfaces. Flight time was linearly related to altitude, while processing time was mainly influenced by altitude and forward overlap, which in turn changed the number of images processed. Low flight altitudes yielded the highest reconstruction details and best precision, particularly in combination with high image overlaps. Interestingly, this effect was nonlinear and not directly related to increased sensor resolution at higher altitudes. We suggest that image geometry and high image frequency enable the MVG algorithm to identify more points on the silhouettes of tree crowns. Our results are some of the first estimates of reasonable value ranges for flight parameter selection for forestry applications.
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  • Journal Article

    Organoaluminum Compounds as Catalysts for Monohydroboration of Carbodiimides 

    Shen, Qiumiao; Ma, Xiaoli; Li, Wenling; Liu, Wenqing; Ding, Yi; Yang, Zhi; Roesky, Herbert W.
    Chemistry – A European Journal 2019; 25(51) p.11918-11923
    he effectivecatalytic activity of organoaluminumcompoundsfor the monohydroboration of carbodiimideshas beendemonstrated. Twoaluminumcomplexes,2and3,weresynthesizedandcharacterized.Theefficientcatalyticperformances of fouraluminum hydridecomplexes L1AlH2(L1=HC(CMeNAr)2,Ar=2,6-Et2C6H3;1), L2AlH2(NMe3)(L2=o-C6H4F(CH=N-Ar),Ar=2,6-Et2C6H3;2), L3AlH(L3=2,6-bis(1-methylethyl)-N-(2-pyridinylmethylene)phenylamine;3), andL4AlH(NMe3)(L4=o-C6H4(N-Dipp)(CH=N-Dipp),Dipp=2,6-iPr2C6H3;4), andan aluminum alkylcomplex L1AlMe2(5)wereusedfor the monohydroboration of carbodiimidesin-vestigatedundersolvent-free andmildconditions. Com-pounds1–3and5can produce monohydroboratedN-boryl-formamidine, whereas4can affordtheC-borylformamidineproduct. Asuggested mechanismof this reactionwas ex-plored, andthe aluminumformamidinate compound6wascharacterized by single-crystal X-ray,also astoichiometricre-actionwas investigated.
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  • Journal Article

    Correlations and forces in sheared fluids with or without quenching 

    Rohwer, Christian M.; Maciołek, Anna; Dietrich, S.; Krüger, Matthias
    New Journal of Physics 2019; 21(7): Art. 073029
    Spatial correlations play an important role in characterizing material properties related to non-local effects. Inter alia, they can give rise to fluctuation-induced forces. Equilibrium correlations in fluids provide an extensively studied paradigmatic case, in which their range is typically bounded by the correlation length. Out of equilibrium, conservation laws have been found to extend correlations beyond this length, leading, instead, to algebraic decays. In this context, here we present a systematic study of the correlations and forces in fluids driven out of equilibrium simultaneously by quenching and shearing, both for non-conserved as well as for conserved Langevin-type dynamics. Weidentify which aspects of the correlations are due to shear, due to quenching, and due to simultaneously applying both, and how these properties depend on the correlation length of the system and its compressibility. Both shearing and quenching lead to long-ranged correlations, which, however, differ in their nature as well as in their prefactors, and which are mixed up by applying both perturbations. These correlations are employed to compute non-equilibrium fluctuation-induced forces in the presence of shear, with or without quenching, thereby generalizing the framework set out by Dean and Gopinathan. These forces can be stronger or weaker compared to their counterparts in unsheared systems. In general, they do not point along the axis connecting the centers of the small inclusions considered to be embedded in the fluctuating medium. Since quenches or shearing appear to be realizable in a variety of systems with conserved particle number, including active matter, we expect these findings to be relevant for experimental investigations.
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  • Journal Article

    Por que o Brasil precisa de suas Reservas Legais 

    Metzger, Jean Paul; Bustamante, Mercedes M.C.; Ferreira, Joice; Fernandes, Geraldo Wilson; Librán‐Embid, Felipe; Pillar, Valério D.; Prist, Paula R.; Rodrigues, Ricardo Ribeiro; Vieira, Ima Célia G.; Overbeck, Gerhard E.
    Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 2019; 17(3) p.104-116
    A legislação ambiental brasileira requer que as propriedades privadas mantenham uma proporção de sua área coberta com vegetação nativa, as chamadas Reservas Legais. Essas áreas representam praticamente um terço da vegetação nativa do país e são reconhecidas pelo seu importante papel na proteção da biodiversidade e na provisão de uma vasta gama de serviços ecossistêmicos aos proprietários rurais e à sociedade. Apesar de sua relevância, o estabelecimento de Reservas Legais tem sido criticado por parte do agronegócio e seus representantes no Congresso Nacional. A exigência de Reservas Legais é considerada demasiadamente restritiva e impediria a plena expansão das atividades agrícolas e, por conseguinte, prejudicaria o desenvolvimento do país. Aqui, analisamos criticamente os argumentos de um projeto de lei recentemente proposto, que visa a extinguir completamente as Reservas Legais. Demonstramos que os argumentos usados não têm apoio em dados, evidências ou teorias, além de ser baseados em raciocínio ilógico. Além disso, sintetizamos os principais benefícios das Reservas Legais, inclusive benefícios econômicos e para a saúde humana, e enfatizamos a importância dessas reservas para as seguranças hídrica, energética, alimentar e climática, além de sua função primária de auxiliar na manutenção da biodiversidade em paisagens agrícolas. Destacamos também que as Reservas Legais são um componente‐chave para soluções baseadas na natureza, que são reconhecidamente mais eficazes e menos dispendiosas. Devem, assim, serum consideradas como ativos para o desenvolvimento do Brasil, e não como passivos. Baseados nas sólidas evidências científicas disponíveis e na concordância sobre a relevância das Reservas Legais, opomo‐nos veementemente a qualquer tentativa de extinguir ou enfraquecer a manutenção dessas áreas.
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  • Journal Article

    Why Brazil needs its Legal Reserves 

    Metzger, Jean Paul; Bustamante, Mercedes M.C.; Ferreira, Joice; Fernandes, Geraldo Wilson; Librán-Embid, Felipe; Pillar, Valério D.; Prist, Paula R.; Rodrigues, Ricardo Ribeiro; Vieira, Ima Célia G.; Overbeck, Gerhard E.
    Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 2019; 17(3) p.91-103
    Brazil's environmental legislation obliges private properties to retain a fixed proportion of their total area with native vegetation, the so-called “Legal Reserves”. Those areas represent practically one third of the country's native vegetation and are well known for their role in biodiversity protection and in the provisioning of a wide range of ecosystem services for landowners and society. Despite their relevance, this instrument has been criticized by part of the agribusiness sector and its representatives in the Brazilian Congress. The Legal Reserve requirement is said to be too restrictive and to impede the full expansion of agricultural activities, and thus to be detrimental for the development of the country. Here, we critically analyze the arguments employed in the justification of a recently proposed bill that aims to completely extinguish Legal Reserves. We demonstrate that the arguments used are mostly unsupported by data, evidence or theory, besides being based on illogical reasoning. Further, we synthesize the principal benefits of Legal Reserves, including health and economic benefits, and emphasize the importance of these reserves for water, energy, food, and climate securities, in addition to their primary function of assisting in the maintenance of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. We also highlight that Legal Reserves are a key-component for effective and less expensive nature-based solutions, and thus should be considered as assets for the development of Brazil rather than liabilities. Based on available sound scientific evidence and agreement on their relevance, we strongly oppose any attempt to extinguish or weaken the maintenance of Brazil's Legal Reserves.
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  • Journal Article

    Response of Four Tree Species to Changing Climate in a Moisture-Limited Area of South Siberia 

    Babushkina, Elena A.; Zhirnova, Dina F.; Belokopytova, Liliana V.; Tychkov, Ivan I.; Vaganov, Eugene A.; Krutovsky, Konstantin V.
    Forests 2019; 10(11): Art. 999
    The response of vegetation to climate change is of special interest in regions where rapid warming is coupled with moisture deficit. This raises the question of the limits in plants’ acclimation ability and the consequent shifts of the vegetation cover. Radial growth dynamics and climatic response were studied in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Siberian larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.), and silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) in the forest-steppe, and for Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila L.) in the steppe of South Siberia, as indicators of vegetation state and dynamics. Climate–growth relationships were analyzed by the following two approaches: (1) correlations between tree-ring width chronologies and short-term moving climatic series, and (2) optimization of the parameters of the Vaganov–Shashkin tree growth simulation model to assess the ecophysiological characteristics of species. Regional warming was accompanied by a slower increase of the average moisture deficit, but not in the severity of droughts. In the forest-steppe, the trees demonstrated stable growth and responded to the May–July climate. In the steppe, elm was limited by moisture deficit in May–beginning of June, during the peak water deficit. The forest-steppe stands were apparently acclimated successfully to the current climatic trends. It seems that elm was able to counter the water deficit, likely through its capacity to regulate transpiration by the stomatal morphology and xylem structure, using most of the stem as a water reservoir; earlier onset; and high growth rate, and these physiological traits may provide advantages to this species, leading to its expansion in steppes.
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  • Journal Article

    Ecosystem services of a functionally diverse riparian zone in the Amazon–Cerrado agricultural frontier 

    Nóbrega, Rodolfo L. B.; Ziembowicz, Taciana; Torres, Gilmar N.; Guzha, Alphonce C.; Amorim, Ricardo S. S.; Cardoso, Domingos; Johnson, Mark S.; Santos, Túlio G.; Couto, Eduardo; Gerold, Gerhard
    Global Ecology and Conservation 2020; 21: Art. e00819
    The ecological services provided by protected riparian zones in human-altered landscapes are widely acknowledged, yet little is known about them. In this study, we assess ecosystem properties that a protected riparian zone maintains in contrast to environmental changes in its surroundings caused by agro-industrial activities in the northwestern fringe of the Brazilian Cerrado on the Amazon–Cerrado agricultural frontier. We assessed the plant biodiversity, soil hydro-physical properties, and water quality, to understand how the underlying ecological characteristics of a riparian zone withstand the effects of its neighboring cropland area on the stream water quality. We show that the riparian zone is fundamental in providing key ecosystem regulating services, including maintenance of plant biodiversity, soil properties, and water quality. Protection of plant biodiversity in the riparian zone sustains a synergy between soil, and functionally and phylogenetically diverse plant communities by promoting higher infiltration rates, higher soil porosity, and natural soil biogeochemistry conditions, which in turn have direct implications for stream water quality. Our study reaffirms that the conservation of riparian zones is crucial to buffer the negative impacts of agricultural practices on ecosystem services. Our results provide consistent evidence to support further studies and environmental policies for riparian environments, which are often the last fragment of natural vegetation remaining in the dominantly agricultural lands within the Cerrado and Amazon forests.
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