Mercedes Bustamante is an ecologist and currently a full professor at the University of Brasilia recognized for her contributions to the ecological knowledge of threatened tropical ecosystems and their interactions with human-induced changes. Her works include contributions to syntheses relating to nitrogen deposition impacts on plant diversity and the impacts of deforestation, fire, and drought in tropical savannas and forests. Bustamante was born in Chile but grew up in Brazil. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (1984), a Master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences (Plant Physiology) from the Federal University of Viçosa (1988) and a Ph.D. in Geobotany – University of Trier (1993). She has participated in high-level national and international research groups and panels (as IPCC and IPBES). In the science-policy interface, she contributed as director of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovations and Ministry of Education in Brazil. She is elected member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). She received the Commendation of the National Order of Scientific Merit in 2018. She was elected Honorary Fellow of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (2020) and an international member of the US National Academy of Sciences (2021).

Research Interests

Mercedes Bustamante's laboratory is interested in natural ecosystems' responses to changes in disturbance regimes, land use, biogeochemical cycles, and climate. They examine the responses of tropical ecosystems and biodiversity to fire, nutrient addition, biological invasions, and degradation. To understand ecosystem responses, they use manipulative experiments under field conditions and monitoring long-term plots. Additionally, they analyze how regional changes in land use affected land-atmosphere interactions and water resources conservation, combining different remote sensing and environmental modeling approaches. The studies also include evaluating environmental policies and the analyses to prioritize land restoration according to different criteria.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences