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Speaker: Luis Cayuela Delgdo, Associate Professor, Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain
Andean tropical montane forests (TMFs) are one of the world’s most threatened terrestrial ecosystems. Despite representing a small fraction of the world’s tropical forests, they hold high levels of species richness and endemism, and are therefore critical for the conservation of global biodiversity. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the mechanisms shaping species composition, diversity and turnover in TMFs, as well as key ecosystem processes such as carbon storage, are partial or incomplete. Our research group aims to contribute to the current knowledge of Andean TMFs by studying the complex drivers shaping taxonomic and functional diversity, as well as ecosystem processes at different spatial scales, expanding our understanding of these highly specialized ecosystems. Our principal research questions are: 1) What are the mechanisms shaping species assemblages (competitive exclusion vs. environmental filtering) at different spatial scales? 2) How does leaf compoundness change along elevational gradients and what processes are responsible for the observed patterns? 3) How does species turnover change along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients? 4) What are the main biogeographical regions of TMFs in the Andes and which hold the highest plant diversity and endemicity? and 5) What is the contribution of TMFs to carbon storage? Our results will contribute to advance current biodiversity research in tropical ecosystems and support the effective conservation of these unique ecosystems.
Luis Cayuela is an Associate Professor at Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain, where he teaches courses on conservation biology, ecology and statistics. His research interests focus on tropical ecology from an integrative perspective, including the functioning, structure, dynamics, and management of tropical ecosystems. He belongs to the Tropical Ecology Lab (www.grupoecologiatropical.com), an interinstitutional group of professors and researchers sharing multidisciplinary interests in the field of tropical biology, including topics such as community ecology, floristics and botany, evolution, and conservation. At present he collaborates with research institutions from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Finland, UK and USA.