November 27, 2009

Ilha do Cardoso 10-ha plot established in Brazil

Text contributed by Julia Stuart and Alberto Vicentini

Under the guidance of Alexandre de Oliveira, students from the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and technicians from Cananéia, Brazil, recently completed the first CTFS census of the 10-ha Ilha do Cardoso plot in Brazil. The plot was originally established in 2000/2004-05, with a DBH minimum of 4.78 cm, as one of four 10-ha plots in the project Parcelas Permanente São Paulo (PPSP, BIOTA-FAPESP) to study the Atlantic, restinga, semideciduous, and cerradão forest types that occur in São Paulo State.

In 2008, Ilha do Cardoso joined the CTFS network with the inauguration of a census to include all trees ≥ 1 cm. The census catalogued four new species (Rubiaceae) not enumerated in 2000/2004-05, bringing the plot total to 106 species and approximately 40,000 trees.

The plot is located in restinga forest in Ilha do Cardoso State Park on the extreme south coast of São Paulo State near the city of Cananéia. The mountainous island is approximately 22,500 ha and was made a state park in 1962. Despite nutrient-poor and water-stressed sandy soils, the forest shows high diversity. At 22°S latitude, Ilha do Cardoso is the southernmost plot in the CTFS network.

Funding from the HSBC Climate Partnership supported the census, and many research projects at Ilha do Cardoso are being coordinated by the Laboratório de Ecologia de Florestas Tropicais at USP.

November 21, 2009

China climate center welcomes citizen scientists

The opening of China’s Regional Climate Centre, the newest of five international sites where HSBC bank volunteers (called “Climate Champions”) work alongside scientists to study the effects of climate change on forests, was celebrated at Gutianshan Nature Reserve, China, on 22 September 2009. The HSBC Climate Partnership—a collaboration between HSBC, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Earthwatch Institute, WWF, and The Climate Group—has four other Regional Climate Centers in India, Brazil, the US, and the UK.

Earthwatch and the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences host HSBC Climate Champions (kneeling above) at Gutianshan Nature Reserve in eastern China, where they measure tree growth and litter production using techniques developed by CTFS.

In 2005, Dr. Ma Keping (below left, with Teresa Au of HSBC) and colleagues established a long-term 24-ha forest-monitoring site in warm-temperate evergreen forest at Gutianshan as part of the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network, a partner network of the Center for Tropical Forest Science.

November 17, 2009

Harvard University & CTFS-AA offer a 2010 Field Biology Course to students from Tropical East Asia: "The Biodiversity of Borneo"

In association with the Harvard University Summer School, the Arnold
Arboretum and the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS-AA) will offer a field biology course to be held in Sarawak and Sabah (East Malaysia) from 1 June to 11 July 2010. Students from Harvard University and universities in Asia will come together to study terrestrial and marine biodiversity, ecology and conservation, with instructors from Harvard University and other institutions (including Sabah Parks, Sabah Forest Dept., Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Univ. Malaysia Sabah, Yayasan Sabah).

Flyer for students applying in Asia.
Flyer for students applying in the US.

The forests and reefs of northwest and north Borneo have some of the highest levels of alpha-diversity in the world. The forests are home to orang-utans, hornbills, rhinos and as many as 5,000 tree species, and the reefs offer some of the best diving in the world. We will visit world-class parks and reserves (e.g., Lambir, Kinabalu and the Maliau Basin), to gain a thorough understanding of abiotic controls on species composition, and will contrast processes that maintain biodiversity in forests with those operating on coral reefs. Throughout Borneo, intensive logging and marine harvesting have occurred for many years. Our course will explore the complexities of conservation today, including trips to sustainably-managed, carbon-traded, and restored forests. We will also provide opportunities for the students to meet people living in and off the forest, to understand their motivations for forest conversion and conservation, and to consider the human health dimensions of forest change.

A key feature will be the development of skills in research project design, execution and analysis, based around the statistical platform `R.' The students will complete three independent projects, from conception to presentation. The students will gain database and web publishing skills by developing a community digital record of the trip.

Lead by Dr. Cam Webb, research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum, the course is aimed at advanced undergraduates, recent graduates currently active in biological research, and postgraduate entry-level students. Maximum age: 25. Travel, food, accommodation and course fees will be funded for Tropical East Asian nationals (ASEAN, PNG, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China). Students will be responsible for other costs and some students may be requested to pay their international travel. Places may be available for non-Harvard, non-Asian, paying students. Students will be
selected to provide broad international representation.

For more information on the course (including instructions for application) see:

Queries and completed application materials should be directed to Dr. Cam Webb (c/o The application deadline is 5 Feb 2010.

November 7, 2009

2009 CTFS Research Grants

CTFS is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009 CTFS Research Grants.

The purpose of these grants is to enhance the quality of science conducted at the plots and to broaden the use of the plots by a diversity of researchers. This year we received 47 proposals. The competition was highly competitive. The ten proposals listed below were selected for full or partial support.

For further information about the CTFS Research Grants Program, please see the website ( The closing date for 2010 awards will be April 1st, 2010. To see a list of recipients and proposal titles, click

CTFS Research Grants Program - 2009 Award Recipients:

Luciana F. Alves: "Assessment of aboveground carbon pools of a tropical moist forest" (Ilha do Cardoso, Brazil)

Robyn J. Burnham: "Liana diversity and abundance in the 25-ha plot, Manaus, Brazil" (Manaus, Brazil)

Britta Denise Hardesty: "Where have all the parents gone – using inverse modeling to predict the location of unobserved parents in tropical forests" (BCI)

Faith Inman-Narahari: "Seed rain and seedling recruitment in Hawai’i" (Laupahoehoe, Hawai'i)

John D. Parker: "Impacts of alien plant invasions and overabundant deer on forest regeneration and community dynamics in a temperate deciduous forest" (SERC, Maryland)

Xiaojuan Liu: Relationships between traits and species distribution (Gutianshan, China)

Qiao Lu & Matthew Warren: "Modeling aboveground plant litter chemistry as a driver of surface soil chemical heterogeneity" (Xishuangbanna, China)

Nadja Rüger: "Parameterization of an individual-based forest model" (BCI, Panama)

Watana Sakchoowong: "Influence of leaf litter composition on selected arthropod assemblages in a lowland tropical rainforest in Thailand" (Khao Chong, Thailand)

Isabelle Witté: "Are boreal forests more structurally complex than temperate or tropical forests, and at which scales? A comparison of tropical, temperate, and boreal mixedwood systems" (SERC, Maryland).

November 3, 2009

Seacology Prize awarded to Filip Damen, CTFS partner in Papua New Guinea

As the new CTFS plot in Wanang, Papua New Guinea is being established, Filip Damen is being recognized for his heroic efforts to conserve the forest of his community, thereby making the plot and other ecological research in PNG possible.

On October 8th, Filip was awarded the Seacology Prize for 2009 for his remarkable courage in protecting his community’s ancestral lands from destructive logging, and helping develop educational and economic opportunities for the eleven clans that occupy Wanang area in Madang Province, PNG. Seacology awards its prestigious international prize annually to indigenous island leaders who endanger their lives to protect their island’s environment and culture.

Click here for a video clip of Filip’s acceptance speech and the full press release.

Recognizing the threat of logging to biodiversity and the Wanang way of life, Filip led a group of Wanang clans to sign a historic conservation deed in 2000. This agreement united the Wanang clans in their resolve to limit exploitation of the lowland rainforest of their region. Since then, Filip and his community have successfully resisted the relentless pressure from logging interests to sell their land for short-term profit.

Their unique conservation strategy has been to encourage and assist with biological research in their forests. Since 2002, Filip and villagers have been working with Drs. Vojtech Novotny and George Weiblen of the New Guinea Binatang Research Center to conduct ecological research in the Wanang Conservation Area. And just last year, Filip led his community to partner with CTFS to set up the first long-term, large-scale forest dynamics plot in Oceania. This is a great achievement for Filip, for the 50-ha plot in Wanang now gives New Guinea the capacity to monitor its forests and will enable researchers to assess the response of Pacific forests to global change and understand the ecological processes that sustain healthy forest ecosystems in the Pacific region. Funding for the project is provided by John Swire & Sons (PNG) Ltd. and Steamships Trading Co.