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Neotropical Tree Communities database (TreeCo)

logo Project that aims to compile and synthesize the existing knowledge on the structure and diversity of neotropical tree communities and on the traits of their species. Currently, the project mainly contains information from the forests and shrublands of the Atlantic Forest (lato sensu), Cerrado, Caatinga and Pantanal biomes (i.e. extra-Amazonian neotropical domains inside the Brazilian territory). The coordination of the project is currently based at Universidade de São Paulo (LET and LabTrop), with the collaboration of researchers from other universities. The database is currently in version 4.0.

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The database

So far, TreeCo is composed by two main bodies of information:

  • A cloud service used to store and share digital copies of the studies and documents related to TreeCo.
  • An online databased that is currently not completely functional but that will store and organize information on:
  1. bibliographic references of quantitative tree community surveys
  2. study methods: sampling methods, effort, …
  3. forest description: coordinates, fragment size, forest type, forest succession, …
  4. site environment: altitude, soil conditions, rainfall, temperature, …
  5. species abundances data: counts of trees and total basal area per species per site
  6. species traits: wood density, maximum height, leaf area, seed/fruit size, among others, obtained mainly from the literature but also from (un)published field measurements
  7. species phylogenies?

Project phases

  • Phase 1: systematic review of studies containing quantitative tree community surveys
  • Phase 2: scanning studies to get the site information, surveys methods and main results
  • Phase 3: validating site geographical coordinates, soil type and fragment size
  • Phase 4: obtaining environmental information for each site (e.g. precipitation and temperature) based on verified survey coordinates
  • Phase 5: extracting values of species abundances and basal area per site (priority given to surveys > 0.5ha and DBH> 5cm)
  • Phase 6: validating species names (Reflora) and updating species identifications based on specimens vouchers (speciesLink)
  • Phase 7: obtaining information on tree species functional traits (e.g. seed size, wood density, etc) from the taxonomic literature (IN PROGRESS)
  • Phase 8: establish partnerships and conduct new inventories (FUTURE)
  • Phase 9: make database available online (FUTURE)

Database overview - August 2018

Studies and inventories data
  • Number of quantitative plant community studies retrieved: 1777
  • Number of inventories retrieved: 4309
    • Atlantic Forest: 2918
    • Cerrado: 869
    • Caatinga: 332
    • Pantanal: 113
    • Pampa: 23
Species abundance data
  • Number of inventories (>0.1ha) entered: 1843
  • Number of abundance records: 146,184
  • Overall stats of the inventories entered: 1722 hectares and 1,977,000 trees
  • Number of families, genera and valid species: 140, 765 and 3952
Species functional trait data (all sources)
  • Number of traits with information: 74
  • Overall number of trait records: 110,220
  • Traits with higher species coverage within Treeco abundance data (~3500 spp):
    • Wood density: 91% (46% and 45% at species and genus level)
    • Maximum height: 92%
    • Leaf area: 56%
    • Leaf type: 63%
    • Leaf hairness: 51%
    • Leaf rigidness: 48%
    • Seed size: 64%
    • Dispersal syndrome: 69%
    • Ecological groups: 53%

all_and_NABs_v4.jpg Figure 1. The quantitative tree community surveys found (left) and the surveys with species abundance data already entered in the database (right). Thick lines present the oficial limits of the Brazilian biomes and Latin america, while the grey lines define the Brazilian states.


TreeCo is open for collaboration with other researches that wants to use it or to improve the database. People willing to use the database in their grad or post-doc projects are specially welcome. We are also more proned to collaborate with those who want to give their input on the quantity or quality of the information in the database instead of only using it.

  • Sharing information on existing literature, ongoing projects and their availability. We would be glad to provide lists of references and to share pdf copies of any study we may have.
  • Using the database with secondary information obtained from the literature, such as the species abundance and trait information. At this level of collaboration, the use of the database may imply in the participation of the project coordinators in the investigation and related publications.

Ongoing projects

  • Lima, RAF et. al. The threat status of endemic Atlantic Forest trees. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions/European Commission (Project: 795114 H2020-MSCA-RISE-2018, acronym THREAT).
  • Lima, RAF et. al. Fragmentation effects on the commonness and rarity of Atlantic Forest trees. Naturalis Biodiversity Center.
  • Klipel, J et al. Climatic control of tree species distributions in the Atlantic Forest. MSc. project. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
  • Pitta, G, Prado, PI & Lima, RAF. The carbon balance in the Atlantic forest. A case study for SP-Brazil. MSc. project. Universidade de São Paulo (USP).
  • Mori, DP, Lima, RAF & Prado, PI. O papel da fragmentação nos processos que estruturam comunidades arbóreas. MSc. project. Universidade de São Paulo (USP).
  • Pitta, G & Lima, RAF. How biased is the knowledge about the Brazilian Atlantic Forest? Comparing landscape metrics. Undergrad project. Universidade de São Paulo (USP).

Future research topics

Once the database is ready, we want to answer scientific questions related to the following topics:

  • Trait-environment effects on tree species abundances
  • Environment effects on the parameters of the species abundance distribution (SAD)
  • Relationships between SAD built using counts of individuals and biomass
  • Environment and distance effects on beta-diversity
  • Environmental filtering on species traits (trait variation)
  • Trade-offs in functional traits of Atlantic Forest species
  • Phylogenetic structure along environmental gradients
  • Species co-occurrence patterns
  • Abundance-range size relationships and concept of rarity
  • Trait effect on species niche size/breath or geographical distribution
  • Indicator species of the Neotropical Forest subtypes
  • Differences and similarities in the structure and diversity of Neotropical Forest subtypes

Publications using TreeCo database

Files available for download

  • To obtain the spreadsheet containing the list of surveys, methods and other details of studies found during the systematic review of Lima et al. (2015) paper, please send an email to raflima@usp.br with your name, host institution and project details to get full access.
  • Link to the cloud service containing the digital copies (pdfs) of all references retrieved by the TreeCo project: click here. Please, send an email to raflima@usp.br with your name, host institution and project details to get full access to the pdfs.


  • São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP - grant 2013/08722-5)
  • European Union’s Research and Innovation programme (grant 795114)

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projetos/treeco/start.txt · Última modificação: 2018/10/08 14:58 por raflima