College

Pomona College

Document Type

Undergraduate Research Project

Publication Date

Fall 10-8-2012

Abstract

The Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil is an area of astounding diversity in both flora and fauna, taking its place among the top five “biodiversity hotspots” in the world. However, in the past 40 or 50 years the area has been increasingly threatened by the presence of humans – approximately 93% of the Rainforest has disappeared as a result of exploitation (Turner 2004). Unsustainable farming practices, as well as logging, cattle ranching and mining activities have caused soil infertility, water depletion, erosion and destruction of ecosystems. This project examines the effects of the Pau Jacaré, Piptadenia gonoacantha, tree on soil health in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil. I conducted soil tests in an attempt to determine if planting the Pau Jacaré in and around degraded areas, through projects like forest corridors or agroforesty, may help restore soil fertility. The Pau Jacaré does not appear to provide an abundance of any specific nutrient; however its role as a pioneer species could be extremely beneficial for setting up forest corridors. Its capacity to fix nitrogen is still not clear but the way in which it creates a balance within the soil may be used in agroforestry.

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