AFEX Principle Investigators and Researchers

University of Exeter Team

Dr. Iain Hartley (PI)

Dr. Lina Mercado (co-PI)

Dr. Luiz Aragão (co-PI; National Institute for Space Research)

Dr. Kelly Andersen (Research Fellow)

Brazil-based Team at Instituto Nacional Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)

Dr. Carlos Alberto Quesada (co-PI)

Dr. José Luís Camargo (Collaborator; Projeto Dinâmica Biológica de Fragmentos Florestais)

Dr. Rafael Assis (Postdoctoral researcher)

Ana Claudia Francisco Salomão, M.S. (Research Assistant)

Renata Vilar de Almeida, M.S. (Research Assistant)

Benedito Sergio Medeiros da Silva (Field assistant)

Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Dr. Laszlo Nagy (Collaborator)

Australian National University

Dr. Patrick Meir (co-PI; University of Edinburgh)

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Dr. Benjamin Turner (Collaborator)

Ph.D. Students

Laynara Lugli (Ph.D. student, University of Exeter)

img-20160915-wa0000I’m a PhD student at the University of Exeter. My goal is to use my research background in biogeochemistry and soil-plant interactions to investigate soil phosphorus cycling, a well-known limiting nutrient to tropical forests, and how this process affects and is affect by plants and microorganisms. With such understanding I will also provide information about the mechanistic functioning of Amazon forest regarding climate and environmental changes in future scenarios. My project, entitled “Dynamics and biological interactions of phosphorus cycling in Central Amazonian forests” is funded by the Brazilian government and supervised by Professors Iain Hartley and Lina Mercado. Here is a link for my personal website:

Sheila Trierveiler (Ph.D. Student, INPA)


Nutrient limitation of litter invertebrates and their role on decomposition in Central Amazonian forests

Nutrients may limit ecosystem processess in many ways. This study evaluates if litter dwelling invertebrates are nutrient limited and to which proportion such limitation can affect the process of litter decomposition. We will experimentaly test the following hypotesis: (1) P productivity hypothesis – P limits microbial biomass which in turn limits microbivores, (2) Structural elements hypotesis – where rare elements limit organisms that have traits which have high demand for such elements, and (3) Decomposition is faster once microbivores are not nutrient limited. Some of the questions have had support from observations across gradients but they still lack experimental testing (Kaspari and Yanoviak 2009, Ecology 90(12) 3342-3351).

Hellen Fernanda Viana Cunha, MSc



Gyovanni Augusto Aguiar Ribeiro


Engº Agrônomo, Mestre pelo INPA, atualmente professor de meio ambiente do Instituto Federal do Amazonas-IFAM.

Doutorando junto ao INPA/AFEX, com foco na fertilidade do solo, produção de serapilheira fina, comunidades microbianas e processos enzimáticos da decomposição da matéria orgânica de uma floresta primária fertilizada na Amazônia Central Brasileira.

Master’s Students

Jéssica de Araújo Campos (MS student, INPA)

foto_jessica_camposI am a Forest engineer, graduated at the Federal University of Pará, Brazil, and currently a master student at the National Institute for Amazonian Research in the field of Tropical Forest Science. My interest in the AFEX project came from the importance of studying the possible responses of the tropical forest facing climate change, focusing on nutrient limitation. In my research, I will check the effect of the addition of nutrients in growth and morphological and physiological characteristics (leaf area, specific leaf mass, photosynthesis, transpiration, respiration and stomatal conductance) of plants in understory conditions, testing if the availability of nutrients can limit growth and physiological processes even in low light conditions.


Amanda Longhi Cordeiro (MS student, INPA)

img_20161003_180530Hello! My name is Amanda Longhi Cordeiro and I am a master student from National Institute of Amazon Research. I am interested in below ground dynamics in response to nutrients addition. I am going to work on root productivity using the minirhizotron equipment. I want to understand how roots cope with nutrient addition, mainly P addition, and how P cycle can be related to C cycle in the Amazon rainforest.


Read more about new developments in Amanda’s research here.

Anna Carolina Martins Moraes (MS Student, INPA)

foto_afexGraduated in Forest Engineering from the Federal University of Amazonas, Brazil. Currently master student of the National Institute for Amazonian Research in the area of Tropical Forest Science. I’m interested in AFEX project to understand the possible changes in nutrient cycling in ecophysiological processes at ecosystem level. In my project, my objective is to analyse if the effect of fertilization of the soil has some influence on herbivory rates by analyzing litter production.



Jéssica Schmeisk do Vale Rosa (MS Student, INPA)

20170207_114335_novoI am a Master Student at the National Institute of Amazon Research in Tropical Forest Sciences Program. My research will focus on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the Central Amazon, considering that the symbiosis between plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi occurs in most of the soils in Amazon, characterized by low phosphorus concentrations. For that we will use traps to isolate this fungus from other components of litter decomposition and we will measure CO fluxes belowground by arbuscular mycorrhizal mycelia respiration. The, we will verify what is the response from these fungi after the addition of nutrients in the soil, mainly the addition of phosphorus and nitrogen.


Research Technicians

Maria Pires

Triagem de raizes e serapilheira, moer amostras das plantas

Raimundo Filho Araujo

Analisis quimica no laboratorio das amostras dos solos e plantas

Regina Pinheiro


Triagem, secagem e pesagem de serapilheira coletada quinzenalmente nas parcelas de AFEX

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