Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas



Species distributions are influenced by both climate conditions and landscape structure. Here we propose an integrated analysis of climatic and landscape niche‐based models for a forest‐dependent primate, the endangered black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). We applied both climate and landscape variables to predict the distribution of this tamarin and used this information to prioritize strategic areas more accurately. We anticipated that this approach would be beneficial for the selection of pertinent conservation strategies for this flagship species. First, we built climate and landscape niche‐based models separately, combining seven algorithms, to infer processes acting on the species distribution at different scales. Subsequently, we combined climate and landscape models using the EcoLand Analysis. Our results suggest that historic and current landscape fragmentation and modification had profoundly adverse effects on the distribution of the black lion tamarins. The models indicated just 2096 km2 (out of an original distribution of 92,239 km2) of suitable areas for both climate and landscape. Of this suitable area, the species is currently present in less than 40%, which represents less than 1% of its original distribution. Based on the combined map, we determined the western and southeast regions of the species range to be priority areas for its conservation. We identified areas with high climatic and high landscape suitability, which overlap with the remaining forest fragments in both regions, for habitat conservation and population management. We suggest that areas with high climatic but low landscape suitability should be prioritized for habitat management and restoration. Areas with high landscape suitability and low climatic suitability, such as the Paranapiacaba mountain range should be considered in light of projected climate change scenarios. Our case study illustrates that a combined approach of climatic and landscape niche‐based modeling can be useful for establishing focused conservation measures that may increase the likelihood of success.

Research Highlights

  • Two percent of the black lion tamarin's original distribution is suitable in terms of both climate and landscape.

  • Niche‐based models that combine broad and narrow‐scaled processes are useful for practical conservation prioritization.


To conserve Brazilian biodiversity - our mission - we carried out a series of actions on different fronts. Research, environmental education, forest restoration, participatory monitoring of biodiversity, implementation of sustainable and efficient production systems with sustainable business partnerships are among the examples of initiatives that you have the opportunity to check in detail in the IPÊ Annual Report (2019).


This is one of the ways we find to show society the impact of our work, through data and stories told by those who participate in our projects. They are rural producers, residents of traditional communities, teachers, ESCAS students, researchers, institutional partners. All of them reveal how IPÊ works in practice - in the Pantanal, in the Amazon, in the Pontal do Paranapanema and in the Cantareira System - to make the difference in the lives of these people and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.

The report also includes our financial data, with all the relevant information about the use of funds raised for the development of works that, in 2019, reached more than 14,500 people. You can also check out all supporters, companies, national and international institutes, civil society organizations, individuals that are partners who trust in our potential and expertise for more than 28 years, understanding the importance of investing in socio-environmental conservation to guarantee a quality life for all.

Access here https://ipe.org.br/ra2019/english/



People from all over the World are supporting IPÊ in water conservation in Brazil, planting trees in the Cantareira System, by Tree Nation website. The international platform hosts 243 projects from 33 countries that aim to plant forests to tackle climate change. Donations help them to do it!

IPÊ's Sowing Water Project is among the three active Brazilian initiatives registered on the platform. Click and make your donation to the project!

On the Tree Nation website, is possible to choose a project to donate. Donations become trees to forest restoration. On the platform there is the option of giving gifts to family and friends by planting trees as well.

The Sowing Water project has 1,000 trees financed. But our goal is to reach 40,000. We can do it with your help!

Why plant trees in the Cantareira System?

Tree planting is strategic for the Cantareira System, one of the largest water supply systems in the world, located in São Paulo State (Atlantic Forest).

“We have already planted 50,000 seedlings in the Cantareira System (Atlantic Forest). We know that the challenge is huge, but we recognize that this is the safest way, planting trees in the Permanent Preservation Areas, which are those areas close to the springs and water courses. With the increase in areas covered by forests, rainwater finds better conditions to infiltrate the soil, so the water is released little by little, especially during periods of drought. The best place to store rainwater is on the ground. In the current scenario, with such a deficit of trees, we are practically hostage to the rain on the basins and waste the rainwater on the compacted soil that cannot infiltrate ”, explains Alexandre Uezu, IPÊ´s researcher. 



Biologist Gabriela Cabral Rezende coordinates the Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Program of IPE, one of the longest-living conservation programs in Brazil, and that recently completed 35 years of uninterrupted activities. Among more than 100 applications, the researcher and other five scientists from different countries won the 2020 Whitley Awards. Each prize is worth £40,000, which will be used in the respective projects.

Nine years ago, Gabriela inherited the program coordination from primatologist Claudio Padua, one of the founders of IPE and the first Brazilian to win the Whitey Award, in 1999. In the extreme west of São Paulo state, the main headquarters of the program is in the Pontal do Paranapanema region, where is located the largest forest remnant of Atlantic Forest in the interior of São Paulo state – one of the last hotspots of global biodiversity.

With an original area of 1.3 million square kilometers, only 14% of the Atlantic Forest remains, as much of it was cut for sugarcane plantation and cattle ranching. With only 1,800 black lion tamarins in the wild, its remaining habitat is highly fragmented, with small and isolated populations.

“The black lion tamarin exists only in the state of São Paulo. For this reason, it is the official state mammal symbol. We are responsible for guaranteeing its existence. I am extremely grateful for the award, that will help us to continue a conservation work that needs to be carried out for the long term, in order for us to see its results” stated Gabriela.

Gabriela and her team work to protect the black lion tamarins by carrying out scientific research, environmental education, and forest restoration. With the collaboration with local communities, IPE restores forest corridors that connect several native forest fragments. The action generates capacity building and improves the income of the population: nine community nurseries and agroforestry plantations help to implement the corridors. The largest of them is also the largest in Brazil, with more than 20 kilometers long and 2.5 million of trees planted.

To know more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGnWKzzYVD4&t=

Funding from the Whitley Award will enable the plantation of more corridors by Gabriela and her team. The goal is to connect every population of black lion tamarin in the region, with the establishment of a continuous forest area of approximately 45,000 hectares (45,000 soccer fields). Besides reforestation, the research plans to transfer groups of black lion tamarins to forest patches currently uninhabited by the species, to guarantee their presence in a wide forested area. This is part of a plan to avoid genetic consanguinity and to assure that these small monkeys have enough resources to survive. The environmental education activities promoted by IPE will also continue in the region.




The main Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) award – the Whitley Gold Award – was given to Patrícia Medici, coordinator of LTCI – Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative, a project from IPE, the institute that she co-founded. Leading conservation actions for the lowland tapir and its habitat for 24 years, Patricia’s work resulted in the creation of the world’s largest dataset about the species. Her contributions for the knowledge about the species and for the progress of science have inspired students and researchers from several countries.

Patricia’s actions combined field research, conservation practices, environmental education, communication, training, and capacity buildings. Added to these actions, there is planning for the reduction of threats and establishment of public policies that benefit the species and its habitat. The outcomes of her work have impacted not only the lives of the tapirs but also of other animals, plants, and humans living in several biomes: the Atlantic Forest, Pantanal, Cerrado, and now with the prize, the Amazon.

The lowland tapir is the largest terrestrial mammal in South America, and it is considered a living fossil as its lineage has survived through several extinction events along millions of years of evolution. However, the species currently faces several threats caused by humans, including the destruction and fragmentation of its habitat due to the expansion of large-scale agriculture, cattle ranching, roadkill, hunting, mining, among others.

“When we support the cause for the conservation of the lowland tapir, we are also defending our own lives, our natural resources and our health. Considered to be the gardener of the forests, the tapir promotes forest renewal and restoration though seed dispersal. Several plant species exist only because their seeds pass through the guts of tapirs. The tapir “plays” with the plant composition and diversity of the forest and is largely responsible for maintaining the integrity of these environments”, explains Patricia.

Patricia Medici anta

Despite being very important for the ecosystems it occurs, in Brazil the Portuguese
word for tapir, “anta”, is a pejorative slang for a person that is not intelligent. To solve this problem and to spread more information about tapirs, Patricia, her team, and supporters of the cause have created the hashtag in the social media: #antaÉelogio.
For the researcher, communicating with the large audience is essential for the
academic developments to reach more people and for a better comprehension about the importance of biodiversity, not only for wildlife but also for humans, that are part of biodiversity.

To illustrate this, Patricia mentions the study of LTCI in the Cerrado of Mato Grosso do Sul state, that found that pesticides and roadkill have contributed to the reduction of the tapir population in the region.

“We need to consider that both pesticides and roadkill impact the wildlife and also us humans. Many people are affected by the excessive use of pesticides. Our studies also show that many people are killed in vehicle crashes with tapirs, mainly due to the lack of safety measures that avoid road crossing by these animals, and also lack of adequate signs. Together with the state and federal public departments, we are using our database to request the implementation of mitigation measures in the roads where tapirs are frequently killed. For obtaining this kind of information we need science and scientists, that also help to apply this knowledge for the good of both humans and wildlife”, defends the forestry engineer.

Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) has supported Patricia’s work in the last 12 years, greatly contributing for the expansion of the LTCI actions all over Brazil. Patricia began her field studies in the Atlantic Forest in 1996, and with WFN help, have expanded her efforts to the Pantantal (2008) and the Cerrado (2015).

The Whitley Gold Award won today will be used for bolstering LTCI’s actions all over the country. In the Atlantic Forest, part of the resources will be used for a reevaluation of the tapir population in the Morro do Diabo State Park. In the Pantanal, tapirs will continue to be monitored using radio telemetry and camera traps. In the Cerrado, the work will be focused in avoiding roadkill and also solving the pesticide contamination issues and hunting, in a landscape that is rapidly changing due to the agricultural developments in Brazil. The new work in the Amazon will be aimed at mitigating the threats to tapirs in the southern part of the deforestation arch, in Mato Grosso and Pará states.

Edward Whitley, founder of WFN, said: “Patricia’s work is vital to fight deforestation in Brazil and to protect this amazing species that is the tapir. Her dedication to research, education, and capacity building are a brilliant example of an effective work. Patricia Medici is a strong voice in conservation in Brazil and in the world. We are privileged to still be able to support this cause”