The ECOSTRESS Group focuses on finding natural climate solutions through conservation and management of terrestrial ecosystems, with focus in the Amazon and Cerrado Biomes. To advance the science, we rely on field work (mostly Amazon), ecological modeling (simple is good), and the use of remote sensing techniques.

Research focus:

  • Identifying  ecological & climatological thresholds beyond which global changes cause abrupt, prolonged degradation of terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Quantifying  ecological & climatological boundaries for tropical agricultural expansion and intensification.
  • Finding solutions to feed the planet while maintaining  the ecological integrity of terrestrial natural ecosystems.


Lab Members

Paulo Brando
Associate Professor
Phone:  203-432-5937

I am an ecosystem ecologist interested in conservation and management of terrestrial ecosystems for natural climate solutions. My research focuses on quantifying the vulnerability of tropical  ecosystems to global changes and identifying potential solutions for climate change mitigation. My scientific toolbox includes a combination of field-based studies, manipulation experiments, statistical models, and remote sensing techniques. I also also collaborate with a wide range of  research specialists for finding long-term solutions to tropical forest sustainability. I’m particularly interested in collaborating with policy-oriented NGOs (WoodwellClimate and IPAM, in particular) to disseminate scientific findings about land use change and climate change to a wide range of different societal groups.  

CV                          ResearchGate                      Publons                            GoogleScholar

Group members:

Dr. Leandro Maracahipes (Research Scientist)

Dr. Maracahipes is a plant ecologist interested in how plants and ecosystems respond to fire, drought, deforestation, climate change and land use in the tropics. His research  focuses on plant functional traits, including both hydraulic and morphological traits. Currently, he is interested in understanding how the synergy between compound disturbance events and extreme drought events affects tree mortality rates and  forest composition, structure, and functioning in

Dr. Andreia Ribeiro (Postdoctoral Fellow) 

Dr. Ribeiro is a postdoctoral fellow at the Land-Climate Dynamics group of ETH since December 2020, under a Brazilian-Swiss joint research project, about climate-related risks in Amazon and Cerrado. The parties involved in this project include the ETH (Sonia Seneviratne), the University of Bern and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Leipzig (Jakob Zscheischler), the Amazon Environmental Research Institute – IPAM, Belém, Brazil (Ludmila Rattis) and the Yale University (Paulo Brando). This project aims to address the risks of exceeding the largest climate-related impacts in terms of fire activity using multivariate statistical methods.

Lachlan Byrnes (PhD Student)

I received my undergraduate degree in Honours Ecology from the University of British Columbia. While at UBC, I became interested in using plant ecophysiological traits to understand forest disturbance while working in the Michaletz Lab. My work focuses on using ecophysiological traits to explain the changes in structure and function in forest edges. These projects focus on the Amazon-Cerrado region,  along the “Arc of Deforestation”. My current projects look at how plant water-use, access to water, and resource allocation can influence mortality in forest edges and as a result change forest structure and function over time.

Nadav Bendavid (PhD Student)

My research focuses on land-use in the tropics and its effects on regional climate and biogeochemical cycling. Specifically, I am investigating agricultural expansion in the Amazon-Cerrado agricultural frontier and its effects on water, carbon, and energy balances using a combination of field sampling, remote sensing, and micrometeorology. I aim to understand how different agricultural land management approaches can provide climatic services and contribute to better conservation of forested areas. With a background in interdisciplinary geography, I always strive to consider the human dimensions of ecological change alongside the non-human.

Laura Obando (PhD Student)

I am a Colombian biologist interested in analyzing human impacts on ecosystems through LULC from ecological and conservation perspectives. Mainly, I am interested in understanding climatic and socioeconomic phenomena’ role in shaping the dynamics of forest fires and their impacts on the Amazon Forest. 



Skye Hellenkamp (MSc student)

I am a first year Master of Environmental Science student at the Yale School of the Environment. I received my undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of South Alabama where I began researching tropical ecosystems and forest dynamics using remote sensing. I am interested in using these technologies to observe the relationships between forest fragmentation and carbon and water cycling within the Amazon, in order to identify regions where conservation policies and practices should be most focused.

Bela Starinchak (Research Associate)

I am interested in the capacity of natural climate solutions to serve as modes of restoration in tropical ecosystems. I attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where I earned B.A.’s in Biology and Spanish. Then, in 2023, I graduated from James Madison University with my M.S. in Biology, where my research focused on the potential of trees in cattle pastures to capture carbon and restore ecosystem functioning in temperate and dry tropical biomes. For this research, I utilized field inventories, remote sensing, and landowner interviews, and also partnered with local conservation organizations like Yale’s ELTI and Virginia’s CREP. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and walking my dog, Fig!

Nathalia Potter (Research Associate)

In 2021, I graduated from Pace University with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Ecology, after spending a Summer at Rutgers University assisting the CROCCA-2s team on their research about ocean acidification in the Indian ocean. 2 years later, I graduated from the University of New Haven with a M.S. in Environmental Science. During my graduate studies, my research focused on the hypoxia problem in Long Island Sound, where I created a model to pinpoint the location of the main source of nitrogen to the watershed. I enjoy working with mapping software such as ArcPro, performing data analysis and the overall management of the research team. I am very passionate about our planet and its resilience and am excited to continue learning about the topic. Other than that, I love hiking and going to the beach. I am also a bit a geek and read way too many fantasy and sci-fi books for my own good.

Interested in joining the lab? Send me an email (paulo.brando@yale.edu) and check out the Yale School of the Environment website.  Diversity, inclusion, and equity form the core values of the ECOSTRESS lab.








Dr. Maria Uribe (Postdoctoral Fellow).


Research Projects

  • Legacy effects of compounding disturbances in the Amazon: implications for ecosystem carbon and water cycling. Support: National Science Foundation-DEB. 


  • Interactions, feedbacks, and carbon consequences of Amazon forest edges incorporating ecosystem and thermal dynamics. Support: NASA-CCS.

  • Intensification in the world’s largest agricultural frontier: Integrating food production, water use, energy demand, and environmental integrity in a changing climate. National Science Foundation-INFEWS

  • Legacies of deforestation and forest degradation on across an Amazon agricultural frontier: effects on biodiversity, carbon cycling, and water resources. National Council for Scientific and Technological Development
Brasil, São Paulo, SP. 18/09/2016. Infográfico LABORATÓRIO NATURAL AS MUDANÇAS NA AMAZÔNIA publicado na página A22 do jornal O Estado de S.Paulo. – Crédito:Arte AE/ESTADÃO CONTEÚDO/AE/Código imagem:203114


  • Tropical biomes: how agriculture intensification and climate may alter fire regimes. National Science Foundation-Macrosystems.