AJ (Arnold) Lugo Carvajal MSc

AJ (Arnold) Lugo Carvajal MSc

PhD Student

I'm a fish lover and I think I have been so all my life. I'm from a Colombian Andean city called Zipaquirá, a nice place but with very few fish species because of its high altitude. So, I decided to move soon first to the Colombian Caribean coastal city of Santa Marta to get my Bachelors in Marine Biology (UJTL) and after that to the Brazilian Amazonas State capital, the city of Manaus, to get my Masters in Freshwater Biology and Inland Fisheries (BADPI-INPA). 

Since then, I've been working in the Amazon for more than ten years on teaching, researching and NGO volunteering on fisheries and aquatic ecosystems related topics.      

At the moment I'm a sandwich Ph.D. student at both Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands and at The National Institute for Amazon Research-INPA in Brazil. 

My research is focused on studying the cascade effects after forest fires on the fish communities and their implications on the recovery process of the black-water flooded forest in the central Amazon.  

Explaining this a little bit more...

Those forests, called Igapós in Brazil, are seen to have a very low recovery capacity and also have been called the Achilles' heel of the Amazon, because of its apparently very low resilience after impacts, especially when compared with other types of Amazon forests like white-water flooded forest (muddy-water flooded forest) and firm land forest. This is caused by the very low amount of nutrients available on the black-water rivers that seasonally flood those environments and their very fire-prone root and soil structures. 

Additionally, the forest fires seem to have increased in frequency and intensity in different regions of the Amazon including the apparently more vulnerable black-water flooded forests during the last years.

On the other hand, fishes have been seen to have a very close relationship with the flooded forest in the Amazon, especially during the high water seasons, using those environments as refuge places against predation but also as a very important source of food like insects and fruits that are avidly consumed by several fish species. Frugivorous fishes can also act as tree seeds dispersers, transporting the seeds in their digestive systems and excreting them even on very far places from the original source. This behavior seems to be a very important part of the flooded forest successional process and a possible key factor to be considered for its conservation, but how this process and many others are affected by the forest fires impacts is still unknown.