Patterns and mechanisms of spatial and temporal variation in tropical forest structure and dynamics

Le 05 Avril 2024
11h30 Hybrid - online and Salle Louis Thaler, bat 22 UM

Helene muller-landau

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Link to seminar:

Tropical forests account for a majority of terrestrial carbon stocks and biodiversity, and it is thus critical to understand how they are affected by global anthropogenic change.  Tropical forest structure, dynamics, and composition vary widely at global, regional, and local scales, and dynamics also vary widely over time within sites in relation to climate cycles and long-term change.  In my talk, I present a variety of recent work quantifying patterns of spatial and temporal variation in tropical forests and investigating associated mechanisms.  Our analyses of long-term field data show substantial temporal variation in tree growth and mortality, and thus forest carbon stocks and fluxes.  Our global literature review established consistency and variability in the spatial relationships of tropical forest structure and dynamics with climate and soils.  Repeat drone surveys in central Panama revealed patterns and correlates of high temporal variation in canopy tree mortality, as well as strong and persistent landscape-level variation in disturbance rates.  Modeling studies help illuminate the mechanisms underlying these and other patterns of variation in tropical forests.  Yet the very diversity of tropical forests presents a tremendous challenge to our ability to understand tropical forest function today and to predict its response to global change, because species differ in important ways. I close by presenting ongoing work to explore the potential for automated species identification that would enable large-scale, species-specific data collection in tropical forests to address this challenge.


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