Trophic cascades in Neotropical Savannas

Decades of research have demonstrated plant communities in African and Asian savannas are regulated by a combination of pervasive top-down and bottom-up effects. In contrast, studies investigating the dynamics of plants in the Neotropical savannas known as the Cerrado have focused almost exclusively on fire, soil chemistry, and other bottom-up drivers. In collaboration with Dr. Heraldo Vasconcelos from Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, we are investigating how herbivores (leaf-cutter ants) and granivores (small mammals) influence the diversity and demography of Cerrado plants. In collaboration with Michelle Mack (UF Botany) we are expanding by experimentally manipulating soil nutrients.