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Speaker: Dr Hans Verbeeck, Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Ghent University
Compared to other tropical regions, there is a lack of recent and accessible legacy data for the Congo Basin tropical forest, which is the second-largest continuous area of rainforest in the world. Especially the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is largely overlooked in global studies and in measuring networks. Nevertheless DRC contains 98 millions of hectares of rainforest (60% of the Congo Basin forest) (Verbeeck et al. 2011).
To fill the knowledge gap in this important biome, Hans Verbeeck and co-workers took the challenge and went to the Yangambi research station in the heart of the Congo basin. This station has been established by the Belgians during the colonial period. At that time it hosted over 400 researchers and was a world leading institute in tropical forest and agriculture research in the 1940s and 1950s. The forest area around Yangambi currently belongs to a UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve of more than 6000 km². Within this reserve, the COBIMFO project (Congo Basin integrated monitoring for forest carbon mitigation and biodiversity) established 21 permanent sampling plots in different forest types in 2012. Analysis of inventory data revealed that carbon stocks in this central area of the Congo Basin are significantly lower (24%) than stocks recorded in the outer regions of the basin. These lower stocks are attributed to a lower maximal tree height (Kearsley et al. 2013).
In this seminar Hans Verbeeck will present an overview of ongoing and future work in Yangambi, including carbon cycle, functional trait and biodiversity data. He will also present some of the unique legacy data available for this location in the heart of the Congo Basin.
Hans Verbeeck is a researcher at the Laboratory of Plant Ecology (Ugent, Belgium). He is working with his team on carbon and water cycling in forests, with a strong focus on the ecology of tropical forest in the Amazon and Congo basin. His key tools are global and stand scale vegetation models. Via data assimilation he combines the models with a series of datasets covering a large range of spatial and temporal scales (ecophysiological, flux tower, biomass and remote sensing data). Since several years he has set up dedicated field studies in the tropics (DR Congo, Ecuador). Hans Verbeeck obtained his PhD at the Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology (University of Antwerp, Belgium) and did a post-doc at the Laboratoire de Sciences du Climat et de L’Environnement (LSCE) in France.