Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas

Distance to range edge determines sensitivity to deforestation

It is generally assumed that deforestation affects a species consistently across space, however populations near their geographic range edge may exist at their niche limits and therefore be more sensitive to disturbance. We found that both within and across Atlantic Forest bird species, populations are more sensitive to deforestation when near their range edge. In fact, the negative effects of deforestation on bird occurrences switched to positive in the range core (>829 km), in line with Ellenberg’s rule. We show that the proportion of populations at their range core and edge varies across Brazil, suggesting deforestation effects on communities, and hence the most appropriate conservation action, also vary geographically.

Article with the participation of Alexandre Uezu, IPÊ researcher.




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 In honor of Don Melnick

Rare are the occasions, unfortunately, that we can say we have lost a human jewel when someone leaves. This is the sentiment we have with the passing of Don Melnick. Don was a friend of IPÊ since he met us in 1993, through his wife, Mary Pearl, a conservationist, partner and friend, today an institutional board member.

Professor at Columbia University, a renowned researcher in genetics and evolution, Don spent his life spreading knowledge linked to conservation and sustainability, bringing people together and opening doors so those good things could happen across the planet. He contributed significantly to IPÊ’s history, annually bringing students from his distinguished University for courses and internships at our headquarters or field projects. He produced documents, published in diverse media, and gave lectures that shifted the track of history.


DON MELNICK AMAZONConfidence was one of his qualities, which in fact were countless. He detected the qualities of people or institutions and fertilized the soil with knowledge and interconnections so that promising projects could germinate and flourish. Integrity was another quality that marked his personal and professional life. In addition, he inspired audacity and innovation, always with discretion, not calling attention to himself, but to the causes he defended. A true leader – one to be followed.

Happy are those who had the luck of crossing his paths. IPÊ had more than that.  The institution was privileged to have walked close to him for so many years, making dreams become reality. We will miss you, Don Melnick. The planet too! May you find another spot where you can propagate good things as you did in your short stay here with us. Our warm and sincere hug with great tenderness and gratitude. Please be assured, wherever you may be, that Mary and your kids, Memy and Seth, will always be welcomed at IPÊ with immense love. 


1 - Claudio Padua and Don Melnick in the first class of the IPÊ Professional Master in Conservation and Sustainability

2 - Don Melnick (first / left) visit the first office of the IPÊ in Manaus (Amazon) 



Planting started in March will form the new 500-hectare north corridor

One of IPE’s most significant results in its 27-year existence is the Atlantic Forest Corridor in the Pontal do Paranapanema. It is the largest ecologic corridor formed by restored forest in Brazil and it connects two protected areas: the Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station and the Morro do Diabo State Park, helping to mitigate the negative effects of deforestation in the region. With a length of 20 km and containing more than 2.7 million trees, the corridor helps to protect not only the forests but also the endangered species of the region, such as the black lion tamarin and the jaguar. With this initiative, these species can now roam safely between the two large protected areas, increasing their chance to find food and reproductive partners.

The effectiveness of this large corridor will be augmented by another corridor that is being planted. This new corridor, called the “North Corridor” (called so because it is located near the northern tip of the Morro do Diabo State Park), will comprise 500 hectares and more than 1 million trees along 3 kilometers of Atlantic forest corridor.

The first trees of the North Corridor are being planted in the Legal Reserve area of Estrela Farm, a cattle ranch with an area of roughly 2,400 ha of which approximately 800 ha are legally designated to preserve the native vegetation. Part of this area of 800 ha that needs to be preserved by the owner is located between the Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station (Agua Sumida fragment) and the Santa Maria I forest fragment, both of which are within a 13 km radius of the Morro do Diabo State Park. To choose which areas will be restored, IPE has created a map that points out the sites with the highest potential for increased habitat connectivity interspersed with the areas that need to be restored by law. The financial resources are provided by Atvos, a sugarcane mill company, via the Nascentes Program, a São Paulo State Program for the conservation of water springs, with international support from WeForest, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Sustainable Lush Fund and the Disney Conservation Fund. 

Capacity building and income generation

Besides the forest restoration, the North Corridor project has other important activities, such as capacity building in agroecology and environmental education for 300 farmers and students. Allied to this, there is income generation for the involved communities, as native species seedlings are produced in community nurseries and sold to the market.

“Due to an uncontrolled occupation, the Pontal do Paranapanema has suffered a significant reduction of its forest cover, with only 1.85% of the original forest remaining. The occupation dynamics has resulted in a regional landscape where several water bodies and forest fragments are being surrounded and encroached by rural settlements and other properties. This occupation, if it does not take into account the environment, risks losing everything that remains in the land, the forests and the water. That is why it is necessary to establish a sustainable rural development based on agroecology that encourages alternative income generation processes, as is the case of the community nurseries”, contends Laury Cullen Jr., coordinator of the project.

Community nurseries are social undertakings that aim to improve the social, economic and environmental development of the families living in the land reform settlements in the region. Such undertakings help to diversify the traditional agriculture by producing and selling seedlings of native and exotic species for reforestation, while IPE’s team simultaneously develops environmental education activities and capacity building of the farmers, teaching them the principles of associativism and agroecology.

Currently, there are 8 community nurseries in settlements of the region. Most of them are the result of cooperation among several families, but there are also private nurseries created by farmers that were trained in the free-of-charge courses given by IPE. In total, the nurseries can produce ca. 800 thousand seedlings per year.

“We always assume in our projects that the local community will be involved, be it through environmental education or through the development of alternative income generation. For example, when we began to plant the first corridor, we helped to implement the first community nurseries of the region. Today, the seedling producers are independent, and they sell their seedlings to other projects like ours”, explains Laury.

The North Corridor Project also aims to influence public policies by acting with the Nascentes Program of the São Paulo State government to preserve endangered species and restore fragmented landscapes in the Atlantic Forest biome.

The Black Lion Tamarin Day will be celebrated in Brazil on February 28, for the first time. This small primate, whose scientific name is Leontopithecus chyrsopygus, is classified as “Endangered” in the international and Brazilian Red Lists of threatened species. Currently, it occurs only in Atlantic forest fragments in the western and southern portion of the Brazilian state of São Paulo, where it has an important ecological role.

Due to intense deforestation and fragmentation of its habitat, the population of the species has been reduced to about 1500 individuals. In fact, the black lion tamarin is so rare that it was not recorded for 65 years until its rediscovery in 1970. Fortunately, thanks to the conservation efforts of the socio-environmental and government agencies, today the black lion tamarin has a more promising future.

Like other primates, black lion tamarins act as sentinels (for example, their mortalities caused by yellow fever warn human populations of the presence of the virus), and they are also good seed dispersers, helping in the maintenance and regeneration of the forests where they live.

Because of these qualities and also due to the fact that it is restricted to a small area in the state of São Paulo, the black lion tamarin was designated the official mammal of the state in 2014.

Research for the conservation of the Black Lion Tamarin

IPE (Institute for Ecological Research) celebrates, in 2019, 35 years of service for the conservation of the black lion tamarin. The efforts have been concentrated in the Pontal do Paranapanema region, the westernmost tip of São Paulo state, and are carried out by members of the Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Program. In this region, field research on the behavior and health of the species are complemented by activities involving the community, environmental education and forest restoration, which guarantee the long-term survival of the species. IPE is responsible for obtaining scientific data that are used in public policies for the protection of this small monkey, such as the information used to create the Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station, a federally protected area managed by the Brazilian government.

Another action important for the conservation of the black lion tamarin was the establishment of the largest reforested corridor of Brazil. As the Atlantic Forest in western São Paulo is extremely fragmented, the forest-dependent animals struggle to survive in small patches of suitable habitat, and virtually every subpopulation faces local extinction risk. One of the efforts led by IPE was to plant a native forest corridor that connects two large forested areas in Pontal do Paranapanema: the Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station and the Morro do Diabo State Park. With 2.7 million trees, the corridor is approximately 20 kilometers long and helps the native animals to find shelter, food and reproductive partners.

The Atlantic Forest corridor, as it is called, is already sheltering several species of animals, including large mammals such as tapirs and jaguars, as attested by studies using camera traps. Use of the corridors by the black lion tamarins is being studied, but as the species uses hollows in old large trees as sleeping sites, which are not present in the young planted corridor yet, researchers from IPE are testing, in some areas adjacent to the corridors, if the tamarins would sleep inside artificial shelters. Monitoring of these artificial shelters is yielding promising results, as two groups of tamarins have been observed using the shelters. These results suggest that implementing artificial nest boxes in the planted corridors will ease the establishment of black lion tamarin populations there.

To celebrate the black lion tamarin day, IPE will promote several activities involving the local populace of Pontal do Paranapanema and also partners such as the Morro do Diabo State Park staff. The complete schedule will be available in the social media of @institutoipe.


There are four species of lion tamarins and they are only found in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The Golden Lion Tamarin (more popular, from the forest of Rio de Janeiro), the Golden-headed Lion Tamarin (from the state of Bahia), the Black-faced Lion Tamarin (occurring in a very small area in the states of São Paulo and Paraná), and the Black Lion Tamarin (from the interior Atlantic Forest of São Paulo state, especially in the western area).

Adult black lion tamarins weigh about 600 grams. Their body is covered by a long fur, predominantly black, except for the rump, which has an orangish color. They are called “lion tamarins” because of the little mane around the face.

They live in family groups containing from 2 to 8 individuals. Each group is composed of a dominant female, one or two reproductive males and the juvenile offspring, which remain in the group until they reach sexual maturity and disperse to form their own family groups. The female normally gives birth to twins once a year after a gestation period of approximately 4 months. The other members of the group help in raising the babies, until the juvenile can move by itself. Communication between the members is frequent and made through high-pitched whistles and chirps.

As they are territorial animals, each group uses an area, which can vary in size between 40 to 400 hectares. They are diurnal animals and during the night they sleep in tree hollows. When researchers study the behavior of the lion tamarins, they must locate the hollows used by the tamarins the day before so they can follow the group early on the next day.

Most of the diet of the black lion tamarin is composed chiefly of fruits, but they also eat tree sap, flowers, invertebrates and small vertebrates, such as frogs and nestlings. The main predators are birds of prey, boas, tayras and small cats.

On October 6th, Suzana Padua received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award during an event at the University of Florida (UF), United States. The president of IPÊ was honored by the Council of Former Students of the Center for Latin American Studies (LAS) of the University, which recognizes former university students whose achievements over the years have had a significant impact in their field in a regional, state or national.

The award recognized the leadership role and service to the community and society of Suzana, as well as the significant achievements in his career, his history in training for conservation and environmental education through the foundation of IPÊ, the environmental education program and the ESCAS - School of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability.

With a master's degree from the University of Florida (UF) in 1991, focusing on environmental education and, later, a Ph.D. from the University of Brasília (UnB), in 2004, Suzana published more than 50 articles and guided 30 Master's his career to date. Because of actions that influenced the socio-environmental transformation and the lives of many students, professionals and members of the rural community, especially women, was recognized by 17 national and international awards. The work with her husband, Claudio Padua, developing pioneering graduate programs was inspired by the interdisciplinary training they received at the UF Latin American Studies Center and the Center's Conservation and Tropical Development (TCD) program.

"I am extremely happy for this award, which I share with the entire IPÊ team and our partners because we do nothing alone. The Center for Latin American Studies and TCD influenced Claudio and I tremendously. When we were setting up the short-term curriculum for IPÊ, Masters and even the MBA, we used our interdisciplinary experience at UF as the basis for what we wanted to offer. This is how social and environmental issues become inseparable, giving life more meaning and value", said Suzana.