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Speaker: Helene Muller-Landau, PhD, Staff Scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Tropical forests account for a disproportionate share of global forest carbon stocks and of global tree diversity, and their ecosystem services and biodiversity are under threat from global change. Understanding these changing forests is not only a major challenge in fundamental research, but also critical to forest conservation and climate protection efforts.
CTFS – ForestGEO is an international network of 59 long-term forest dynamics research sites. The network totals 1,560 ha of census plots, has accrued >17,000 ha-years of monitoring, encompasses >5.5 million living trees and >10,000 species, spans 25°S – 61°N latitude, and is highly representative of the range of climatic and edaphic conditions experienced by forests globally. Measurements include a regular core census of all trees ≥1 cm diameter and supplementary measurements of tree functional traits, growth and physiology, reproduction, DNA barcodes, arthropod and vertebrate populations, C stocks, soil nutrients, aboveground productivity, ecosystem-atmosphere gas exchange, and microclimate. These data enable detailed studies of forest structure and dynamics and their relationships to natural and anthropogenic drivers.
Recent findings document the low extent of spatial autocorrelation in aboveground biomass at scales of 20-500 m, the scale-dependence of relationships of tree species richness with productivity and biomass, and the high frequency of major changes in abundance of tree species (from analysis of 4000 species), among many others. This talk will present selected past, current, and planned research from the CTFS – ForestGEO network that address forest structure and dynamics.
Helene Muller-Landau is a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), where she leads the Forest Carbon Research Initiative for the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) – ForestGEO network of large forest dynamics plots. She uses a combination of empirical and theoretical approaches to investigate the ecosystem and community ecology of tropical forests. She did her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Statistics at Swarthmore College, her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, and postdoctoral work at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and at Princeton University before taking a position as assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. In 2008 she moved to her current position at STRI.