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Study maps almost 500 species of Serra de Carajás, in Pará

Picture Pedro Viana

Carajás National Forest in Pará has one of the largest mineral provinces in the world and also peculiar vegetal ecosystems, known as cangas or iron-rich fields. Since 2015, researchers from Vale Institute of Technology (ITV) and Emílio Goeldi Museum (MPEG) have developed the project "Flora of the cangas of Serra de Carajás, Pará, Brazil". It is the most recent and systematized botanical study of the region's ecosystem. The project has the support of over 90 botanical taxonomists in Brazil and abroad, coming from at least 25 national and international institutions. The total number of species of flora when the survey is completed, which is estimated for December 2017, shall reach 700, which is equal to 10% of the species referred to the state of Pará.

The study was published in special editions of Rodriguésia journal, of the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most important and traditional journals in the Botany area, mainly in Plant Taxonomy. The second volume was released on August 24th, during the 68th edition of the Brazilian Congress of Botany, in the Botanical Garden.

Species of Serra de Carajás

The second volume of the study, of the three to be published by Rodriguésia, is made up of 51 monographs at the level of botanical families, including eight articles of bryophytes, one of lycophytes, 10 of ferns, and 32 monographs of angiosperms, totaling 244 species. Added to the treatments published in 2016, in the first volume, the survey reached 106 monographs, with 492 species. The last volume will be released in December, closing the survey of about 700 species.


The monographs include taxonomic descriptions, illustrations, geographical distribution and identification keys for genera, species, and photos of species in the field. Through the systematization of information and the recovery of past records, the current study contributes to the provision of correct and authenticated information, replacing outdated lists and propitiating the use of such information for various purposes.

All the material collected since 2015 is already included in a database, with 8,800 samples deposited in the herbarium of the Goeldi Museum in Belém. With this information, researchers hope to organize data about species that are often scattered or incomplete.

Picture Nara Mota

ITV researcher and scientific leader in the study of Brazilian flora Ana Maria Giulietti points out that "the work allowed updating and systematizing the data on the flora of this important region that is the canga of Carajás." "Species that did not appear in previous lists were found and those considered as endangered and rare were recovered," explained Ana Maria, who is also a collaborator of the Goeldi Museum.

Coordinator of the project through ITV, Vera Fonseca says that many plants had a single sample collected before 2015. "Now, we collect several samples to expand this knowledge and study the populations, because each one carries a differentiated genetic base, in addition to marking matrices for seed collections."

What are cangas?

They are vegetal ecosystems associated with places where the outcrop of iron-rich rocks occurs. Cangas are found in several places in Brazil and are known to house very specific living beings, adapted to the characteristics of these places.

As they are generally associated with the country's major iron ore deposits, cangas pose challenges to research and planning that reconciles biodiversity conservation and exploitation of natural resources.

The species are located in the Amazon Forest, considered the great gap of floristic knowledge of Brazil. The Flora organization of cangas of Serra dos Carajás aims to fill some of this gap and also help dialogue between science, productive sector, and environmental licensing agencies in the region, providing detailed information on taxonomy (which classifies living beings), morphology, and distribution of the species occurring in the cangas of Carajás.


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Study maps almost 500 species of Serra de Carajás, in Pará