Meet Carla: The fascinating world of biocrusts

Hello, everyone! My name is Carla Webber and I’m the new post-doc in the Cryptogamic communities group at the ATTO. I’m a biocrust researcher and have worked on this subject for more than ten years. Biocrusts taught me to be an interdisciplinary researcher.

I did my first bachelor’s degree at Ulbra to be a teacher of geography. My second bachelor’s degree, at UFRGS, was in geography too. But then my work was focused on the applications of remote sensing and GIS. I did my first master’s in Tübingen, Germany and my place of study was southern China. At this time I found out about the fascinating world of biocrusts. This experience changed my life and introduced these small organisms to me.

After I returned to Brazil I had the feeling that biocrusts and all Cryptogram organisms are very important to understand the basis of vegetation in the world. I also had a feeling that they existed in Brazil too and that they are very important here, too. I’m from the southern part of Brazil, and there we have the Pampa biome. In this biome, we have a problem called Sandization. At the Pampa biome, I found biocrusts and a new passion for life. I spent many years analyzing and understanding the behavior and composition of the biocrusts of the Pampa. This gave me a second Masters in the taxonomy of cyanobacteria components. During my Ph.D., I tried to learn more about soil restoration and the chemistry of biocrusts. After that, I returned to Tübingen University for a one-year exchange program. During this time, I did a study that involved a machine learning process and GIS mapping of biocrusts in the Pampa biome.

Being able to work now in the Amazon Forest is an amazing dream! I really like this experience and I’m very excited to discover more about the Cryptogamic communities from this huge and important biome. I’ve been enthusiastic about ecology since I was a kid and I believe that cryptogamic communities are a big tool to support us to have a more sustainable planet.

Although I joined the ATTO team in February 2023, I have been reading and listening to my colleagues about the studies at ATTO. I also had my first trip to ATTO last month. My focus at ATTO is to understand how Cryptogamic communities respond to variations in light intensity, temperatures, humidity, and CO2 concentration changes throughout the different heights on trees and under different solar aspects. This will help us understand many scientific questions that concern our climate and the participation of these small communities in the Amazon rainforest.