March 11, 2016

CTFS – ForestGEO congratulates the 2015 Research Grant Program awardees!

CTFS – ForestGEO is very pleased to announce the awardees of the 2015 Research Grants Program. The 2015 cycle was highly competitive and received 37 diverse proposals submitted from around the world. Six proposals were selected for funding based on their innovative contributions to the ForestGEO network and their scientific and educational goals. 

Kendall Becker, a PhD student at Utah State University will study Controls on post-fire seedling recruitment in the Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot, California, USA. The analyses will explore the relative importance of dispersal, viability, predation, and microclimate controls on post-fire seedling recruitment, which will improve models of post-fire forest response in the Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot.

Andrea Drager, a PhD student at Rice University in Houston, TX, will explore Staying connected: how pollination relates to tree density in the Afrotropics. The research will provide baseline pollination and trait data in the Korup Forest Dynamics Plot, a hotspot of endemic plant biodiversity. The data will help researchers understand how rare species persisting at low densities relate to biodiversity maintenance in species-rich tropical forests.

Scott Stark, a Post-doctoral Research Associate at Michigan State University, will explore a Rapidly advancing understanding of size-structured forest dynamics in temperate and tropical forests with a highthroughput remote sensing approach. The research will use light detection and ranging (LiDAR), a remote sensing platform for estimating forest biomass in the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Barro Colorado Island Forest Dynamics Plots. The use of LiDAR will provide a 3-D estimation of the structure of canopy leaf area and light environments to understand tree size-structure in terms of biomass.

 James Dyer, a professor at Ohio University, will explore Using a Water Balance Approach to Examine Temperate Forest Dynamics in Complex Terrain. The research will present a method of modeling moisture availability and demand in three CTFS – ForestGEO sites in the US, including the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Lilly Dickey Woods, and Tyson Research Center. The new method of modeling will offer the ability to quantify moisture conditions in both relative and absolute terms, producing values directly comparable at both ForestGEO sites.

Ekaphan Kraichak, a lecturer in Botany at Kasetsart University in Thailand, will study the Relative Importances of Host Characters and Spatial Structure on Tropical Epiphytic Communities.  Ekaphan Kraichak has previously completed a survey of all epiphytic cryptogams in the University of California Santa Cruz Forest Ecology Research Plot (UCSC-FERP). This project will provide a comprehensive list of cryptogam species for the Khao Chong Forest Dynamics Plot in Thailand to serve as a comparison on the relative influences of host characters and spatial structure on epiphytic communities.

Terhi Riutta, a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Oxford, will work on Quantifying ecosystem effects of insect herbivory on common oak in Wytham Woods, UK. The research will provide the first estimates of the effects of insect herbivores on biogeochemical cycles in the Wytham Woods Forest Dynamics Plot and will assess the wider ecosystem effects of insect herbivory.

For a list of all CTFS – ForestGEO Grants Program awardees, see our website.

March 8, 2016

New Special Feature by the British Ecological Society, “Demography Beyond the Population,” includes 3 new ForestGEO articles!

There is a new Special Feature of the British Ecological Society (BES) Journals that includes CTFS – ForestGEO data from Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, and Panama!

This exciting collaborative and interdisciplinary Special Feature, Demography Beyond the Population, integrates original lines of research in the vast field of demography. The articles featuring ForestGEO data are found in the Journal of Ecology and Functional Ecology.

The Case of Ash Dieback
How can we use modeling to forecast the response of forests to ash dieback disease? Jessica Needham and colleagues built models that predict forest community response to the loss of Fraxinus excelsior L. (European ash) using demographic data from Wytham Woods. Their methodology introduces a new way to identifying demographic strategies such as growth, survival, and fecundity and linking them to population dynamics. This is done through integral projection and individual-based models that project community responses to significant tree mortality that will influence regeneration in woodlands across the globe.

Climate Change and Second-Growth Forests
How can we address uncertainties in predicting responses of second-growth forests to climate change? Maria Uriarte and colleagues present a neighborhood modeling approach to tackle uncertainties in a second-growth tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico. The dynamic nature and high species diversity of second-growth forests led Maria Uriarte and colleagues to identify traits to better understand how individual trees and species will contribute to forest successional change. Specifically, a hierarchical Bayesian approach was used to provide insight into the variation in drought tolerance and consequences for successional trajectories in tropical rainforests given shifts in climate.

Functional Traits as Good Predictors
How can functional biology help us better understand tropical forest dynamics? Marco Visser and colleagues use functional traits as predictors of vital rates across the life-cycle of tropical trees in Barro Colorado Island, Panama. This model-averaging approach lessens the uncertainty in predictive power of functional traits by identifying easily measured traits that are good predictors of life history and demographic performance. In this case, wood density, seed mass, and adult stature served as good predictors of life history.

For more information, please click here for the editorial and here for a Methods in Ecology and Evolution blog that features CTFS – ForestGEO Ecologist, Sean McMahon.