August 25, 2014

2014 Research Grant Program awardees

The 2014 cycle of the CTFS-ForestGEO Research Grant Program was competitive. Approximately 35 interesting and diverse proposals were submitted from all over of the globe. Each proposal was read by network scientists, and ranked according to scientific merit, contribution to the network, educational contribution, and status of the Principle Investor (PI) to determine an overall rank. 5 proposals were selected for funding. Find a summary of each funded proposal below.  

Carlos Jaramillo, a Staff Scientist at STRI, submitted Pollen flora of the Amacayacu 25 Ha Plot: adding a geological time scale dimension to SIGEO plots, The research will take place at Amacayacu National Park, Amazons, Colombia.

Matthew Craig, a PhD student at Indiana University submitted A new framework for quantifying drivers of soil carbon dynamics within and among forests. The research will take place at Lilly Dicky Woods, SCBI, SERC, Tyson Research Center,  Wind River.

Jan Ng, a PhD student at University of California-Davis submitted Assessing shifts in tree spatial patterns following reintroduction of fire disturbance in the Yosemite Forest Dynamics plot. The researched will take place at Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot in California, USA.

Owen Lewis, an Associate Professor at Oxford University submitted Linking botanical and entomological datasets: A seed trap network for the Wanang 50-ha plot. The research will take place at Wanang, Papua New Guinea.

Jian Zhang, Postdoc at University of Alberta submitted See forests from drones: testing the potentials of drones in CTFS long-term monitoring network. The work will take place in Dinghushan, China.

To learn more about the CTFS-ForestGEO network, visit

August 5, 2014

CTFS-ForestGEO Dimensions of Biodiversity USA - China Student Exchange Program

María Natalia Umaña is a student from Nathan Swenson's Lab who traveled to China to develop a Project in Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) funded by CTFS-ForestGEo Dimensions of Biodiversity USA-China Student Exchange Program. The following is a report she wrote about her trip when she returned: 

"Tropical forests, being important hot spots of biodiversity, harbor a significant number of rare species. Most of the plant species in tropical forests exhibit very restricted distributions and low abundances, while only few species are dominant. Why are so many species rare? Is it because rare spaces have different characteristics compared with common species? Are rare species ill-suited to the available habitats or specialized on rare habitats? These are classic questions in ecology and the main motivation of my PhD project.

In order to assess this question I am measuring the intraspecific variation in functional traits across several species with different relative abundances. Recently, as a part of my Ph.D. research, I traveled to the Xishuangbanna Forest Dynamics Plot (FDP) located in the south of Yunnan Province, China where I collected the functional trait data for seedlings in this tree community. In April 2013, 218 seedling plots were established near the 20-ha Xishuangbanna FDP. All the seedlings were monitored for growth and survival every two months. After one year, in April 2014, a team of 5 Chinese field assistants and I quantified functional trait data from every individual.
I stayed in the field station near the 20-ha FDP during my visit. This region, shaped by extensive mountains ranges, is home to a diverse tree community with over 400 species in the 20-ha plot with most of them being quite rare. During my visit I had the chance to share some time with local people who helped me with fieldwork. Although I arrived to China knowing only few words in Chinese, we were able to set up a nice team and work collaboratively in harmony. The people I met were always very kind and very hard-working. The field assistants have grown up in close partnership with nature and are very familiar with the hundreds of species located in and around the FDP. After our exhaustive field and lab work we now have an extensive data set including trait and demographic information at the individual level. With this data we will be able to evaluate how variable are traits across species with different relative abundances and how this individual level trait variation links with individual performance.

I would like to acknowledge the financial support of CTFS for this fieldwork. Specifically, the Dimensions of Biodiversity IRCN USA-China NSF grant awarded to Dr. Stuart Davies and Dr. Keping Ma funded my travel and this collaborative opportunity. I would also like to thank all of my new Chinese collaborators that were involved in this project from the laboratory of Dr. Min Cao. Specifically, t
his work would not have been possible without the help of Dr. Luxiang Lin, Cai Cai Zhang (a PhD student in Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden), Dr. Yang Jie, Zhigang Chen(field technician), Lang Ma (field technician), Zhilin Mu and Yongzheng Shen (field technician). Our time together yielded great new working relationships and friendships."

To learn more about Xishuangbanna Forest Dynamics Plot: