Woodwell Climate @ Tanguro Field Station

Probing tropical ecosystem dynamics at the world’s largest agricultural frontier

photo by Chris Linder.

Team Collaborators

Located in Mato Grosso, Brazil, Tanguro field station is on a working agricultural farm used by both Woodwell Climate Research Center and Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM Amazônia, Amazon Environmental Research Institute), as well as other research partners. It is in the southern Amazon, the driest portion of the Amazon Basin, and harbors a transitional forest between Amazon forests and Cerrado/savannas.

Tanguro is a model for research on Amazon/Cerrado forest function and resiliency, agroecosystems, and the influence of mosaic landscape regions on the Amazon. It is a varied landscape with over 40 thousand hectares of croplands producing soybeans, cotton, maize, and beans, and an equal area of standing native forest.

Tanguro lies on the Amazonian agricultural frontier—which has experienced some of the highest rates of deforestation and fire in past decades—and was originally deforested and converted to cattle pasture in the mid-1980s. Conversion to croplands began in the early 2000s and was completed by 2008. Starting in 2010, it underwent a rapid shift from soybean single cropping to soybean-corn double cropping in a single season. In 2020 there was another rapid shift, with more than half of the farm devoted to cotton. 

The topography, soils, hydrology, climate, and farming practices at Tanguro are typical of the southern and eastern Amazonian agricultural frontier. Because of those conditions, and particularly a long dry season, the agriculture and natural vegetation are very sensitive to even modest changes in fire occurrence, climate, and their interactions.

As an expansive field site, Tanguro Ranch serves as a laboratory for understanding a wide range of environmental and climatic changes that are occuring now or that may occur soon in a much wider area of the Amazon Basin. Since research began there in 2004, it has become an important hub for both research and education around tropical agriculture and tropical forests. Over 215 international students have been influenced by this field station, where they have developed their Ph.D. dissertation or master’s theses, completed short research internships or field courses, or learned how to better communicate science to the general public.

Research area
Partners & Collaborators
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  • Max Planck Institute logo
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation logo
  • Yale University logo
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