David Wright

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Seoul National U.

Grant number

Gr. 9566

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Wright, Dr. David K., Seoul National U., Seoul, Republic of Korea - To aid research on 'Investigation of Amazon Dark Earth in Caxiuana National Forest, Brazil'

As the pace of global change accelerates, better knowledge of what constitutes a ‘sustainable ecosystem’ is needed. Tropical regions of the world contain the world’s largest reservoirs of biodiversity, but they are also the most threatened from human activities. Studies of Amazon Dark Earth (ADE, a.k.a., terra preta do ‘ndio) soils indicate that pre-Columbian populations in the Amazon were substantially higher than today and many areas were intensively managed and cultivated for millennia. However, discovery of these sites is complicated by the presence of thick jungle, which restricts access and has limited the number of known ADE sites to a mere handful relative to the suspected total amount. This project will use recently released NASA-satellite data to predict the locations of ADE sites in Caxiuan’ National Forest, Brazil to test whether a predictive model can work across lowland and upland terraces of the Amazon River. A selection of sites will be visited and excavated to discriminate the chemical and biological features of ADE sites relative to non-ADE sites in the forest and to validate the remote sensing model. This research has the potential to better understand forest management and pathways to plant domestication in the Amazon, from which sustainable agriculture and its relationship to human-created soil fertility can be studied in the tropics more generally.