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André Galvao Duarte

meI’m investigating the effects of low CO2 concentrations on plant physiology and biochemistry and how these effects translate into changes in the isotopic signature of plant tissues. My interest in low CO2 may sound surprising when at present a great deal of research effort is put into predicting plant responses to future increases in atmospheric CO2. However, for most of their recent evolutionary history, plants were exposed to CO2 concentrations far below the ones observed today, and legacies from this low-CO2 world may significantly influence plant responses in the future.
In addition, new paleobiological insights could arise from investigating the physiology of plants grown at past low CO2 levels, expanding our understanding of ancient habitats and animal ecology. I’m particularly interested in the surprising 15N-enrichment found in remnants of the woolly mammoth  dating from the Pleistocene mammoth steppe. This unexpected 15N-enrichment (which makes it look like mammoths were carnivores!) has been attributed to an isotopically distinct food source; thus, investigating proxies of the terrestrial food web baseline of that time could potentially be the key to solving this conundrum.

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