Dr Eduardo Arraut
I’m the Professor of Geomatics of the Aeronautics Institute of Technology (ITA), Brazil. I’m passionate about the innovative potential of applying complex systems theory and remote sensing to ecology, conservation and environmental engineering.
I have had the privilege of working with very good people in beautiful, wild places. In 2004, as part of an MSc in Ecology with Prof. Jacques Vielliard at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), and aided very kindly by Dr. Douglas H. Cato, Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), Australia, we were the first to describe the song of the Brazilian population of humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae (https://doi.org/10.1590/S0001-37652004000200028). This required several months of recording whale song adrift on a small inflatable boat – ‘mother ship’ not always within visual contact and huge whales commonly nearby – in the Abrolhos Archipelago region.
I then went to the Western Amazon to study the migration of Amazonian manatees Trichechus inunguis, a vulnerable and extremely cryptic animal with ecological and cultural significances. This was under the supervision of Dr. Evlyn Novo and Dr. José Mantovani, National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Dr. Miriam Marmontel, Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development (IDSM), Prof. David Macdonald, WildCRU, and Dr. Robert Kenward, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK. We explained that, when confronted with the prospect of becoming stranded and exposed to predators owing to the fast drying out of the floodplain, manatees opt to undergo a dangerous seasonal migration to rias, where food is also scarce but at least some aquatic space remains (https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00655.x). We also went deeper into the challenges manatees face en route to the rias. In particular, we discovered that manatees fine-tune their migrations to within the day, to remain as long as possible feeding in the high-water destination while leaving early enough in the lowering-water season to traverse the migratory bottlenecks (shallow stretches of river) before they close. We also showed how, owing to these bottlenecks, climate change and massive dam building in the region are major threats to manatees, owing to increased exposure to predators during natural or dam-induced extreme droughts, combined with partitioning by the dams of the already vulnerable population into D + 1 (D = number of dams) small, isolated populations (https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-4392201600862 ; https://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6269/128/tab-e-letters).
In 2009 and 2010, I spent two years coordinating field expeditions in Western and Central Amazon floodplains (Rivers Solimões and Purus), as part of a large research project aiming at characterizing wetland flooding dynamics by means of optical and radar remote sensing. Then, I moved to the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research’s (INPE) newly created Earth System Science Centre (CCST), where I was appointed Executive Secretary (ES) of the Brazilian Research Network on Global Climate Change (Rede CLIMA), and of the National Institute of Science and Technology for Climate Change (INCT-MC). My activities included producing the multi-disciplinary reports, managing funds and coordinating communication. We produced an assessment of Rede Clima (https://periodicos.unb.br/index.php/sust/article/view/15526/13824).
During my post-doc at WildCRU, which started in 2013, and then as adjunct professor at the Department of Hydric Resources and Environment, Civil Engineering Division, ITA from 2018 onwards, I’ve been developing a novel modelling approach that bridges complex systems theory with remote sensing, for predicting individual and population-level patterns of animals within the geographical space of real, changing landscapes (https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745501.001.0001/acprof-9780198745501-chapter-10, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206354, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.0993). This collaboration has involved Dr. Sean Walls, Prof. David Macdonald, and Dr. Robert Kenward.
At ITA, I’ve also been working with infrastructure researchers and Brazil’s Ministry of Infrastructure, on developing an objective decision-making framework for regional airport site selection (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jairtraman.2020.101888). I have also been teaching remote sensing and geoprocessing at the undergraduate and graduate programs, and coordinating ITA’s Geomatics Lab.
Updated June 2021