About us

The Brazilian Team has been built as a collaborative and multidisciplinary group of scientific research, including bioinformaticians, ecologists, robotic engineers and taxonomists, devoting synergic efforts to improve our knowledge on plant and animal diversity from tropical rainforests worldwide, using modern techniques such as spectrography, DNA barcoding and artificial intelligence. This approach has been applied during the XPrize Rainforest.

Considering that destruction of tropical rainforests is expanding faster than human ability to study them, our aim focuses on promoting innovative technologies for the rapid, accurate and low-cost characterization of biodiversity, especially from remote areas.

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 rapid and replicable study of biodiversity, which are easily handled by non-specialized professionals, but, at the same time, based on scientific methodology and comparable among different environments.

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).

Brazilian Team – First steps

Semifinal Submission – Getting started

Three frontlines:

Taxonomic Accuracy and Validation

led by Rafaela Forzza and including Daniela Sampaio (general taxonomy, professor at Universidade Estadual Paulista),Thiago Flores (plant database, Universidade Estadual de Campinas) and a zoologist to be defined. Since most of the tools will provide names from pre-existing databases, names of organisms can be synonyms, out of date or misspelled, they will take care of the accuracy of the final lists of the study area, being also aware of the presence of exotic or invasive species, names considered doubtful due to their occurrence, etc.

Visible biodiversity

led by Alexandre Oliveira and Pedro Brancalion (USP professors in the area of Ecology) with high experience in the training of human resources and in the coordination of major projects in rainforest ecosystems. There will be two groups directly focused on field activity: Plant Samples and Image recognition, including Alberto Vincentini (Eastern Amazon expert), Diana Diaz (Western Amazon expert) and Natália Ivanauskas (Atlantic Rainforest expert), and one more specialist to be defined that will use high-resolution images to perform plant species identification using artificial intelligence; and Remote Sensing, including Danilo Almeida (USP postdoctoral), Carlos Alberto Silva and Eben Boadbent (Professors at the University of Florida). Eben is one of the developers of GatorEye (http://gatoreye.org), a combined hardware system and custom algorithm workflow, which collects and generates unique data fusion products incorporating LiDAR, hyperspectral, thermal, and visual sensors.

“Invisible” biodiversity

led by Renato Lima (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Holland), Lucie Zinger (Ecole Normale Supérieure, France) and Pierre Taberlet (University of Grenoble-Alpes, France). Renato is a post-doctoral researcher experienced in managing biodiversity data. Lucie and Pierre are world references in DNA metabarcoding from environmental samples (e.g. water, soil, litter). Others participants are Gabriel Colletta (PhD student, Barcoding and Plant Taxonomy); Fredéric Boyer (biostatician well-experienced with DNA metabarcoding data); Otavio Marques (great experience using MiniONs). Eben Broadbent supervised works on bioacoustics, but we are searching for an additional researcher for generating animal species lists based on this technique.

Schematic summary of field activities

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.

Team Members:

Testing our solutions on the field

Xprize Competition

The XPRIZE Rainforest is a global, five-year, $10 Million competition challenging innovators to develop novel technologies to rapidly and comprehensively survey tropical rainforest biodiversity and use data to deliver new insights in near real-time that promote the health and conservation of this vital ecosystem.

Scoring Methodology

The Grand Prize winning teams will survey the most biodiversity within 100 hectares of tropical rainforest in a 24-hour period and use these data to produce the most impactful Insights after 48 hours.

Environment and Safety

Safety is a top priority for this competition and to minimize the impact of the competition on the rainforest environment, Solutions must minimize environmental harm and ensure safety of participants and surrounding communities.

Timeline

March 2021 to September 2024

Contact us

+55 (19) 3447 6603
brazilianteam@usp.br

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

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