MORPHINE Network: Tropical Multispecies Plantations

MORPHINE Network: Multispecies tropical fORest PlantatIon NEtwork (MORPhINE) - Tropical Multispecies Plantations

MORPHINE Network: Multispecies tropical fORest PlantatIon NEtwork (MORPhINE) - Tropical Multispecies Plantations

The network of multi-species tropical forest plantation plots includes 5 sites in Brazil :

  • 3 experiments with two associated species, Eucalyptus/Acacia model
    • 2 sites on the Itatinga Experimental Station (USP/ESALQ), State of São Paulo
    • 1 site at the Sinop experimental station (Embrapa), State of Mato grosso
  • 2 experiments with more than two associated species, native species model of the Mata Atlântica
    • 1 site on the Itatinga Experimental Station (USP/ESALQ), State of São Paulo
    • 1 site on the Anhembi Experimental Station (USP/ESALQ), State of São Paulo

The Multispecies tropical fORest PlantatIon NEtwork (MORPhINE) focuses on the biological mechanisms and ecological interactions that condition the relationship between biodiversity and forest ecosystem functioning.

The Itatinga (SP) site 200 km west of São Paulo and the Anhembi (SP) site 80 km north of Itatinga are representative of sub-tropical conditions. The Sinops (MT) site, 2000 km from São Paulo in central Brazil, has tropical conditions. The size of the experiments varies according to the sites: 5.2 ha and 2.6 ha for eucalyptus/acacia experiments (Itatinga and Sinops), 6 ha for native species experiments (Itatinga), 2.6 ha for native species experiments (Anhembi).

Various levels of mixed-species forest are tested: two species with Eucalyptus grandis and Acacia mangium; a gradient of species native to the Mata Atlântica (Itatinga site); and 20, 60 and 120 species native to the Mata Atlântica (Anhembi site). In addition to mixture effects, other practices are studied at the different sites: fertilisation, planting density and spacing between species, the proportion of species in the stand, reduced rainfall, ...

Services offer

The network offers the opportunity to work on systems that are simpler than natural forests. This allows researchers to carry out multifactorial experimental studies, which are of major interest for the study of the biological mechanisms underlying forest ecosystem functioning.

The research on very deep soil horizons (> 10 m) being conducted at these sites is improving our understanding of the biological mechanisms controlling carbon, water and nutrient cycles in forest plantations at different spatial and temporal scales. The knowledge acquired in this network provides managers with an opportunity to improve silvicultural practices and reduce their environmental impact through more ecological silviculture.


The network is coordinated by Agnès Robin and Joannès Guillemot (CIRAD researchers, UMR Eco&Sols, based in Brazil). The network benefits from strong support from private and public Brazilian partners (IPEF, SOS Mata Atlântica, University of São Paulo/USP, ESALQ, Embrapa) to monitor and maintain the experiments.

The research unit also provides scientific knowledge in biogeochemistry in forest ecosystems, centred on C, N and cation cycles. The team regularly welcomes international students and researchers.

Operations and data access

The network is partly funded by the Brazilian partners. Consequently, the sharing of raw data within the framework of scientific cooperation is subject to the agreement of the partners.

Monitoring of the network includes dendrometric inventory campaigns, biomass and mineral mass measurements, litter collection, as well as soil analyses at variable frequencies depending on the parameters measured.

Data access and cost

Access to the network for ad hoc sampling campaigns and collaborative projects is encouraged and will be greatly facilitated by the presence of the network coordinators in Brazil.

The raw data and databases specific to each site remain under the responsibility and ownership of the institutions in charge of each site, but may be shared within the framework of scientific cooperation with the CIRAD and the Brazilian partners involved.

The minimum cost of maintaining and monitoring the network is estimated at 50 k€ per year. Brazilian forestry service companies are being mobilized to ensure the quality and regularity of the measurements (Floragro, AgroAmbiença, etc.).

Available measurements

All the sites have a weather station.

The installation of the Mata Atlântica species experiment (Itatinga site) was completed at the end of 2018. Instruments have been set up to monitor soil moisture, measure soil CO2 emissions (Li-8100, Li-COR®) and foliar ecophysiology (Li-6400, Li-COR®), and to monitor litterfall and root dynamics (minirhizotrons).

Modification date: 16 August 2023 | Publication date: 14 May 2018 | By: Jean-Paul Laclau - CIRAD - Mai 2018