About us

The Brazilian Team is a non-profit organization that has been built as a collaborative and multidisciplinary group of scientific researchers, including bioinformaticians, ecologists, robotic engineers, and taxonomists from Brazil, Colombia, France, Norway, Portugal, and USA.

We consider that the destruction of the tropical rainforests is expanding faster than the human ability to study them, which inspires us to devote synergic efforts to improving our knowledge of plant and animal tropical rainforest diversity worldwide by using modern techniques such as spectrography, DNA barcoding, and remote sensing. Our innovative technologies are carefully designed and developed for the rapid, accurate, and low-cost biodiversity assessment, especially from remote or inaccessible geographic areas.

These technologies and strategies have been applied during the XPRIZE Rainforest, a five-year competition, to enhance our global understanding of the rainforest ecosystem. In June 2022, the Brazilian Team was announced as one of the 15 semifinalists of this competition, being one of the three teams selected from the South Hemisphere.

Schematic Summary of Field Activities
Proposed for the XPRIZE Rainforest

Our strategies include use of drones, flying over the 100-hectare area to obtain high-definition images of plants; bioacoustic tools, to capture the sounds of the forest and identify birds, bats and amphibians; collection of hematophagous insects to identify also their animal hosts (e.g. mammals and birds); collection of water, litter and soil samples to identify fish, frogs, insects, plants and various organisms based on their DNA. Portable sequencers (“MiniONs”) will be used for quick DNA sequences in the field, and artificial intelligence tools to identify sounds and plant images.

Our strategies include:

Use of drones flying over the 100-hectare area to obtain plant high-definition images

Bioacoustic tools to capture the sounds of the forest and identify birds, bats and amphibians

Collection of hematophagous insects for taxonomy ID and their animal hosts (e.g. mammals and birds)

Sampling collection of water, litter and soil to identify living organisms (e.g. fish, frogs, insects, plants and others) based on their DNA.

Our solutions

Our main innovations rely on the use of existing tools (drones, bioacoustic devices, portable sequencers) and knowledge in an integrated manner, aiming to develop technologies and a protocol for the rapid and replicable biodiversity assessment, based on scientific methodology and comparable among different environments.

Our techniques do not require human presence inside the study area. Data collection is always done using different devices, which are easy to use by non-specialized professionals.

The Brazilian Team focuses on Plants (Angiosperms, Gymnosperms, Ferns, Lycophytes, and Bryophytes) and Animals (Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish, and Arthropods). Our techniques cover three frontlines:

Taxonomic Accuracy and Validation

We aim at generating a final species list of the target study area, including the presence of exotic or invasive species, names considered doubtful due to their occurrence, etc.

Visible biodiversity

We focus on field activities using robotic traps for insects, litter, and soil and drones for plant ID through artificial intelligence and remote sensing.

“Invisible” biodiversity

We use DNA metabarcoding from environmental samples (e.g. water, soil, litter), bioacoustics (for birds, bats, and frogs ID), and portable sequencers (“MiniONs”) for quick DNA sequences in the field.

These kinds of data collection using innovative technologies:

Cause minimal or no harm to the living beings and the surrounding ecosystem

Allow a rapid and accurate representation of the multiple habitats, their composition, and structure, and

Allow low-cost biodiversity assessments, including from remote or inaccessible areas.

Our technology

GatorEye Unmanned Flying Laboratory

This system consists of obtaining data through a drone, which will fly over and collect information about tree canopies, allowing their identification – from a database – and quantifying them. The GatorEye is a novel combined hardware system and custom algorithm workflow, which collects and then, in post-processing, generates unique data fusion product deliverables incorporating LiDAR, hyperspectral, thermal, and visual sensors.


It is a taxa identification method that uses a short section of DNA while comparing it to a library of reference sequences. Although this technique is more efficient for animals, it is currently being improved for plants with satisfactory results using larger stretches of DNA and some prior knowledge of the local flora. DNA extraction and sequencing techniques are traditionally performed in laboratories, however, the device called “MinION” is being developed, with promising results, to measure just a few centimeters and connect to a computer through a USB port. We plan to work with multiple MinIONs simultaneously for robust data collection.

Brazilian Team solutions developed for the XPRIZE Rainforest

Brazilian Team Semifinal Submission for the XPRIZE Rainforest

Our team

The Brazilian Team is structured on two pillars: the scientific and the technological, including experts and recognized professionals, with a large experience in ecosystem restoration projects, and early career fellows (future leaders in tropical biodiversity research).

Coordinator: Vinicius Castro Souza. Researcher and professor at the Universidade de São Paulo (ESALQ-USP).
Vice-coordinators: Rafaela Campostrini Forzza. Researcher at Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (JBRJ).
Paul Dale. International advisor for biodiversity at Secretaria de Infraestrutura e Meio Ambiente do Estado de São Paulo (SIMA-SP).
Renato Lima. Researcher and professor at the Universidade de São Paulo (IB-USP).

Contact us

Avenida Pádua Dias, 11 – São Dimas
Piracicaba – SP – 13418-900 – Brasil