Meet Fernanda: Understanding methane fluxes from trees

Hi everyone, my name is Fernanda!

I am a PostDoc at the National Institute for Amazonian Research in Manaus (Brazil). Along with collaborators at INPA and MPI-BGC, I am working on methane fluxes from tree stems in the different ecosystems present at ATTO. My background is in nutrient limitation. For my master’s thesis, I applied nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers to seedlings of a pioneer species. Under controlled greenhouse conditions and monitored their growth, biomass and plant physiology. I continued with this theme in my PhD, where I worked on a large-scale fertilization experiment (AFEX) in a terra firme forest here in the Central Amazon. After two years of intensive field campaigns in 8 ha of forest, we discovered direct evidence for strong phosphorus limitation on productivity. This has implications for the region’s future carbon sequestration (see here for more about this.

During my PhD, I also worked with foliage, trunk and root respiration. This gave me the necessary basis for the transition to my current research on methane exchange. I am excited to work on understanding why some trees emit this powerful greenhouse gas to the atmosphere and I am fascinated by the beauty of wetland ecosystems (valleys, igapós) where this behavior is most common. It is my hope that we can produce relevant results for the community from my research and contribute in different ways to the protection of these vulnerable ecosystems. I am thrilled to be part of the ATTO family, and I have a very grateful heart for all the amazing experiences I’ve had here; in particular, the view of the forest from 325 m, traveling to Europe to present my work and teaching children in the local community around ATTO.

I work with a Los Gatos Ultraportable Analyser, the equipment in the yellow suitcase on the left. It can measure the concentration of CH4 in the air. By connecting the analyzer to flexible chambers attached to tree trunks, I can measure how exchange varies with height. This will help us to understand better the origin (e.g. from the soil or within tree tissues) of the methane emitted.

Before arriving at my measurement sites, I have the privilege of enjoying the Uatumã River (center).

In addition, the opportunity with ATTO was the bridge that led me to MAUA (Ecology, Monitoring and Sustainable Use of Wetlands), the laboratory where I support the team’s common goal. In particular, I help with scientific meetings and important field campaigns for the group and disseminate science to the local community (right).