This project addresses the reciprocal relationship between population and environment in frontier areas of the Brazilian Amazon by focusing on the linked processes of social, economic, demographic, and environmental change. In earlier studies we examined the role of the domestic cycle on land use and distinguished between period and cohort effects, and discovered that a property cycle explained more of the dynamics of change in land cover than a household cycle, particularly after the first generation. In this phase of the study we use as a unifying conceptual framework Forest Transition Theory, and expand our focus to address the role played by the social and economic integration of urban and rural areas, and the growing role of capital investment in large-scale mechanized agriculture and ranching that appears to be transforming the landscape. We examine land use and land cover change at the property and regional level, and focus on two mechanisms posited by Forest Transition Theory to link economic development and forest cover change: migration and agricultural intensification. In the previous phase, we conducted follow up surveys in previously surveyed households and properties at our first study site (Altamira). In this phase, we will carry out follow up surveys in previously surveyed households and properties in Santarim (our second study site), add urban samples for each of these two previously studied areas (Altamira and Santarem), and add a new study site in the epicenter of mechanized soybean expansion in the state of Mato Grosso, at Lucas do Rio Verde where we will sample both large scale rural and urban residents. We will acquire satellite date to update the coverage for the two previously studied areas, and a complete set of data for the past 30 years of change in the new study site as we propose a strong comparative design that will allow us to make inferences about the role of endogenous and exogenous factors in household, property, and landscape dynamics. The use of Forest Transition Theory will help extend the applicability of findings to other frontier regions. With the additional study area, this will be the largest social survey carried out in the Amazon region, with more than 1,000 properties and more than 2,500 households, covering an area in excess of 10,000 square kilometers.

Public Health Relevance

This project explores the social and economic processes associated with land use and land cover change, particularly deforestation, in the Brazilian Amazon. Local impacts include increases in malaria, increases in temperature (with adverse health impacts in a tropical climate), and changes in precipitation patterns (potentially decreasing the availability of clean water). Global impacts, through effects on the global carbon budget, include adverse health impacts of severe weather events and climate changes impacting directly on human health and indirectly through declining agricultural productivity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section (SSPS)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Indiana University Bloomington
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Guedes, Gilvan R; VanWey, Leah K; Hull, James R et al. (2014) Poverty dynamics, ecological endowments, and land use among smallholders in the Brazilian Amazon. Soc Sci Res 43:74-91
Vanwey, Leah; Vithayathil, Trina (2013) Off-farm Work among Rural Households: a Case Study in the Brazilian Amazon. Rural Sociol 78:29-50
Li, Guiying; Lu, Dengsheng; Moran, Emilio et al. (2013) Mapping impervious surface area in the Brazilian Amazon using Landsat Imagery. GIsci Remote Sens 50:172-183
Lu, Dengsheng; Li, Guiying; Moran, Emilio et al. (2013) Spatiotemporal analysis of land use and land cover change in the Brazilian Amazon. Int J Remote Sens 34:5953-5978
Lu, Dengsheng; Moran, Emilio; Hetrick, Scott (2011) Detection of impervious surface change with multitemporal Landsat images in an urban-rural frontier. ISPRS J Photogramm Remote Sens 66:298-306
Lu, Dengsheng; Hetrick, Scott; Moran, Emilio (2011) Impervious surface mapping with Quickbird imagery. Int J Remote Sens 32:2519-2533
Guedes, Gilvan Ramalho; Queiroz, Bernardo Lanza; Vanwey, Leah Karin (2009) Transferencias intergeracionais privadas na Amazonia rural brasileira. Nova Econ 19:325-357
de Sherbinin, Alex; Vanwey, Leah; McSweeney, Kendra et al. (2008) Rural Household Demographics, Livelihoods and the Environment. Glob Environ Change 18:38-53
Rindfuss, Ronald R; Entwisle, Barbara; Walsh, Stephen J et al. (2008) Land use change: complexity and comparisons. J Land Use Sci 3:1-10
Parker, Dawn C; Entwisle, Barbara; Rindfuss, Ronald R et al. (2008) Case studies, cross-site comparisons, and the challenge of generalization: comparing agent-based models of land-use change in frontier regions. J Land Use Sci 3:41-72

Showing the most recent 10 out of 14 publications