Understanding the origin and the landscape dynamics of white-sand vegetation in Amazonia


My research interests are centered on understanding how plant communities and ecosystems are organized in tropical regions. I completed my undergrad degree in Forestry at the University of Brasilia, Brazil (2003-2008) and in 2009, I was awarded a M.Sc. position at the National Institute of Amazonian Research, Brazil (2009-2011). My master’s thesis addressed how much variation in tree communities can be predicted by soil, flooding and topography in the white-sand forests of northern Amazonia (Damasco et al. 2013 Journal of Vegetation Science). As a PhD student at the Department of Integrative Biology, I am interested in investigating the origin and the landscape dynamics of white-sand ecosystems in Amazonia. To perform a pilot fieldwork in the Brazilian Amazon, I applied for the Tinker Field Research Grant to cover my flight expenses to Brazil. In January of 2013, I went to the Viruá National Park to carry out a field research focused on understanding which processes could explain the origin of white-sand physiognomies. To answer these questions, I sampled soil cores along vegetation gradients to analyze the organic matter isotopic composition and the phytolith composition of the soil. The results will help me to investigate how forest islands arose within swamp grasslands environments and detect patterns of landscape dynamics.

Gabriel Damasco
Publication date: 
September 20, 2013
Publication type: 
Student Research