Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences | Geography Department | Biogeography | Projects | Land-use & biodiversity Chaco | Land-use and biodiversity in the Chaco - Expected Results & Significance

Land-use and biodiversity in the Chaco - Expected Results & Significance


The project proposed here aims to make substantial contributions to the fields of land use science, conservation science, and sustainability science.


First, understanding and balancing the often conflicting goals of agricultural production and biodiversity conservation is a great challenge for science and policy-making alike. Yet, few studies have assessed these trade-offs in biodiversity-rich areas that are undergoing rapid land use changes, and these have focused on very small study areas. Thus, this project will provide new and important insights into the trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity for a poorly studied, yet highly dynamic regions.

Second, the project will break new ground by comprehensively exploring the relationship between land use change and biodiversity dynamics. Past assessments have often neglected the role of land use intensification and environmental heterogeneity, as well as the importance of land use legacies in determining current biodiversity patterns. This project will advance these lines of inquiry, specifically in regards to understanding non-linearity in the relationship between land use change and biodiversity dynamics.

Third, this project will provide the first comprehensive reconstruction of land system dynamics for the last 25 years for the entire Argentine Chaco, considering both land conversions and intensification processes, thereby substantially improving our understanding of land use change in this part of the world. Specifically, this will provide new insights into the proximate drivers of deforestation (e.g., soybean farming vs. cattle ranching), potential displacement effects, and the questions whether agri-business expansion leads to recovery of remaining natural vegetation.

Fourth, the project will systematically gather primary biodiversity data on bird communities, providing new insights into spatial patterns of biodiversity in this poorly studied region – regarding species richness, community turnover, and abundance of key indicator species.

Finally, the insights on biodiversity and agricultural productivity patterns, on trade-off and synergies among them, the spatial datasets generated by the proposed project, and the multicriteria optimization model we will derive will all provide important decision support to manage towards sustainability in the Chaco, one of the world’s most rapidly changing ecoregions.