Education and Capacity Building
Brazil Research Experience for Falmouth Teachers: Land Use, Carbon Cycle, and Water in the Amazon
The Woods Hole Research Center conducts major field experiments in the transitional forest on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, at the Fazenda Tanguro, a private soy ranch in eastern Mato Grosso state in Brazil. There, Center researchers and collaborators are studying how fire, land use change, and deforestation affect the ecological health in these forests. Through this work, scientists are learning how to predict the impacts of current trends in land use and climate change, and how those impacts are altering forests throughout the southern Amazon.
Two supplemental grants awarded to the Woods Hole Research Center from the National Science Foundation, have sent Falmouth MA public school teachers in August 2009 and July 2011 to Tanguro ranch.
Falmouth, MA High School teachers Christine Brothers and Kelly Garrett went to the ranch for two weeks in August 2009. Together, Brothers and Garrett worked with the field crew to gain firsthand experience in making measurements and collecting data related to stream water quality, forest biomass, soil carbon, nutrients and to examine invasive species.
Dr. Brothers and Ms. Garret talk with ranchers about their efforts with local students to replant trees along rivers.
Dr. Christine Brothers is the head of the Falmouth High School science department and a biology teacher. Her interest in the research being conducted at the Tanguro Ranch stemmed from wanting to understand the effects of land use in Brazil and how they are measured and the desire to use that knowledge to engage her students in studying the impacts of land use in the Cape Cod region. While at Tanguro, Brothers participated in forest carbon data collection; measuring and collecting aboveground biomass, soil respiration, root growth and coarse-wood and fine debris.
Ms. Kelly Garrett teaches chemistry at Falmouth High School. She is interested in the changes in water quality that occur because of land use. While in Brazil, she participated in measuring turbidity, dissolved oxygen, coliform counts, pH, and temperature of streams.
They also met with our Brazilian educational outreach coordinator Maristela da Rosa and spent 3 days visiting the local schools in Canarana and nearby Querência, Mato Grosso. At the schools they met with teachers to learn about the environmental projects they are undertaking with their classes. Students at the rural school have adopted a local river. They did a trash cleanup along the river, planted seedlings to stabilize the banks, and are carrying out periodic measurements of water quality. Students at another school have also planted trees at a nearby cattle ranch, at the request of the farmer, to help reestablish water flow in a stream through his ranch.
Since returning from the ranch Ms Garrett and Dr. Brothers have given lectures on what they learned to students and to community members in Falmouth, MA. They have introduced techniques for forest carbon and stream water sampling in courses at Falmouth High School.
Dr. Brothers measuring tree diameter, which is used to calculate tree biomass.
Ms. Garrett and Dr. Brothers’ goals for Falmouth High School:
1) Tree Biomass and Water Quality Measurements: The Advanced Placement Biology classes have been measuring tree biomass, about 40 students per year, for the last two years. The sophomore Environmental Science classes have been doing water quality testing at West Falmouth Harbor in April and May for two years. There were about 110 students in 5 classes both years.
2) Weather Station: The weather station has been running since February 2011 with data posted to the district website (http://bit.ly/oNr4JL).
3) Hydrology Data: Hydrology data from the Environmental Science classes at West Falmouth Harbor field trips has been posted to the GLOBE project. Data has also been sent to the GLOBE carbon cycle project.
4) A greenhouse is under construction since the end of the last school year 2011, with funding from the Falmouth Education Foundation.
Ms. Cruse installing a camera to capture animal movements in a burned parcel of the forest.
Celeste Cruse, a science teacher in Falmouth MA at Lawrence Junior High School, traveled with Research Associates Kathleen Savage and Paul Lefebvre to the Tanguro Ranch to participate in the Center's ongoing research activities. Ms. Cruse is interested in impacts of land use change with particular emphasis on impacts to the forest carbon cycle, plant and animal species and food webs.
While in Brazil Ms Cruse had the opportunity to work in the burned forest experiment and the adjacent soy bean fields where she participated in ongoing measurements of below ground carbon and soil moisture. One of her main interests while on the ranch was how changes in land use may have impacted animal abundance and diversity. She installed 4 cameras around the ranch to capture animal movement. She also travelled around the Tanguro ranch extensively with Paul Lefebvre and with Dr. Oswaldo Carvalho, to look at different habitats and the variety of animals that frequent them.
Ms Cruse also met with Maristella da Rosa, who hosted her at elementary and secondary schools, in the Canarana area. There she met with students and teachers to discuss environmental projects. One such project engaged students, teachers and the community in watershed reforestation. Students collect seeds from the native trees they then plant and grow small saplings in greenhouses. The students, along with their community, work together to replant these saplings along waterways that had previously been deforested.
Students and teachers at a school in Agua Boa, Brazil with Ms. Cruse.
Ms. Cruse plans to incorporate her experience into the classroom by sharing with her students her experiences in Brazil, as well as her findings on how land use change is impacting animal populations at the Tanguro ranch. She also intends to purchase animal tracking cameras to position around the Falmouth area. She plans to monitor animal movement with her students over the next few years and use this data as a tool for understanding biodiversity in the Falmouth area of Cape Cod.
For more information on this project, please contact .