Fernandes becomes second consecutive Brazilian to win GBIF Young Researchers Award

Ph.D candidate at INPA shares dataset from environmental monitoring of ants living in areas influenced by new hydroelectric power plant

Itanna Fernandes
Itanna Oliveira Fernandes, a Ph.D candidate at INPA (the National Institute of Amazonian Research), is one of two recipients of the 2017 GBIF Young Researchers Award

Itanna Oliveira Fernandes, a Ph.D candidate at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA: in Portuguese, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia), has been named as one of two recipients of the 2017 GBIF Young Researchers Award. Fernandes and her co-recipient, Spanish graduate student Nora Escribano Compains, will each receive a €5,000 prize and recognition at GBIF's 24th governing board in Helsinki on 26 Sept 2017.

This year's award specifically called for the mobilization and publication of exemplary sampling-event datasets from ecological research. Fernandes’ submission presents environmental monitoring data captured during field research on ants living in areas influenced by the Santo Antônio Hydroelectric Power Plant, located in Rondônia state in western Brazil near the Peruvian border.

Drawn from what is believed to be the world’s first taxonomic and ecological study to monitor the impact of a hydroelectric power plant on ant fauna, the dataset contains 9,165 occurrences gathered during 253 separate field surveys at 6 sites. The sampling-event dataset records 10 subfamilies, 68 genera and 324 species and morphospecies of Formicidae and is already available via GBIF.org.

Fernandes intends to prepare a data paper about the dataset soon, submitting it for peer-review and publication to earn additional scholarly recognition for the efforts required to prepare, curate and describe such data. Pensoft Publishers, who worked closely with GBIF to develop the biodiversity data paper concept, have agreed to waive publication charges for this year's award-winning entries submitted to Biodiversity Data Journal.

The research sought to understand how the ant fauna adapted to the filling of the hydroelectric reservoir, Fernandes noted, “because, at some point, some of the monitored areas would be submerged.” It is the first time that such monitoring has been carried out, not only for ants, but for several other groups.

Fernandes has already had a busy and momentous September, having just submitted her Ph.D thesis to INPA. “We have already concluded the phylogenetic analyzes that consider molecular data, and we have been able to distinguish Anochetus and Odontomachus as the two Formicidae genera present at the monitoring sites,” she reported. “We have also been able to estimate these genera’s period of origin, diversification and biogeography.”

"We are proud of Ms Fernandes’ award, which, as the second consecutive Brazilian award winner, shows that despite all the difficulties, Brazilian science is growing in innovation and fostering a better knowledge of our biodiversity,” said Andrea Ferreira Portela Nunes, head of delegation and national director for SiBBr: Sistema de Informação sobre a Biodiversidade Brasileira. SiBBr is the GBIF national node from Brazil, which nominated Fernandes for the award. "It is very rewarding to see that our national node and our country are increasing their capacities in ways that receive global recognition.”

"We congratulate Ms Fernandes on her award and look forward to seeing her future contributions to data mobilization and research." noted Tim Hirsch, Deputy Director of the GBIF Secretariat. "Her exemplary work just one example of the increasing stature of the GBIF network in Brazilian research, and of Brazil's institutions in global research.

By nearly any measure—web traffic, downloads, peer-reviewed papers—researchers from Brazil now rank among the most prolific users of both the national and global infrastructures.

About the Award

Since its inception in 2010, the GBIF Young Researchers Award has sought to encourage innovation in the use and mobilization of biodiversity data shared through the GBIF network. The 2017 GBIF Young Researchers Award is funded by SBNO: Stichting ter Bevordering van Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek and supported by Pensoft Publishers. Learn more

About INPA: the National Institute of Amazonian Research

Established in 1952, the National Institute of Amazonian Research or INPA conducts scientific studies of the physical environment and living conditions of the Amazon region to promote human well-being and socio-economic development regional economy. Learn more

About SiBBr: Brazilian Biodiversity Information System

SiBBr (in Portuguese, Sistema de Informação sobre a Biodiversidade Brasileira) is provides robust national data infrastructure for biodiversity content from Brazil. SiBBr is an initiative of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC), through its Secretariat for Research and Development Policies and Programs (SEPED), with technical support from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Learn more

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