Regeneration potential in human-impacted Andean landscapes

IMG_1282Andean ecosystems are among the most species-rich and threatened biodiversity
hotspots in the world. Most research and conservation attention in the Andes have focused on biomes such as lowland forests, cloud forests or paramos. Yet, data onregenerating forests in heavily-impacted landscapes ae scarce, despite the fact that these second-growth stands have the potential to serve as biodiversityreservoirs. A few years ago, I started a project in collaboration with Andrés Etter, Juan Posada and Nicola Clerici, combining data on multiple spatial scales, to evaluate (1) the spatio-temporal dynamics in land cover change in the Bogota Savanna (2) the regeneration potential of the secondary forests that dominate this landscape and (3) their role as carbon sinks. So far, we have established 20 20m x 20m plots in both secondary and mature forests around Bogota, an 8-million inhabitants city. To our nice surprise, we have found so far many old-growth specialist species in te secondary forests and many endemic species

Biodiversity tree dynamics in Colombian tropical dry forests

BSTTropical dry forests probably covered a large fraction of South America thousands of years ago, yet they represent less than 10% of the original ecosystem is left across the region. In Colombia, dry forests originally covered almost 9 million ha, of which only 700,000 ha remain, mainly as secondary forests. This understudied yet critically endangered ecosystem is characterised by the presence of a dry season, with at least 3-6 months receiving less than 100 mm. The  vegetation is mostly deciduous and show high levels of endemism. In order to better understand the dynamics of these forests, The Humbodlt Institute has established 17 1-ha plots througout the country. This initiative has hugely enhanced our knowledge about the distribution, diversity and dynamics of tropical dry forests.

Successional pathways and rates of change in Neotropical forests

DSCN2801Across the tropics, regenerating secondary forests contribute to as much as 50% of the
total forest cover in many countries. During my post-doctoral research at the University of Connecticut with Robin Chazdon, I focused in understanding the ecological drivers and principles of tropical secondary forest regeneration following agricultural abandonment. I am part of a collaborative investigation on successional pathways that comprehends long-term dynamics data from multiple Neotropical countries. Our goal is to understand how species richness and composition and forests structure vary within sites through time, and what are the environmental determinants contributing to successional variation in each region.

For more details visit the neoselvas website.

Seedling regeneration monitoring in a pristine forest at the Nouragues Biological Station, French Guiana

The regeneration phase is considered to be a critical phase through plant ontogeny because it is a critical bottleneck for successful species establishment. As part of my dissertation research, supervised by Jerome Chave and Christophe Thébaud at the University of Toulouse (France), I evaluated the relative importance of dispersal limitation and niche differentiation in shaping seedling regeneration patterns in species-rich plant communities. To do so, I followed seedling cohorts in a pristine forest at the Nouragues Station in French Guiana. Currently I am collaborating with Tim Paine to assemble a complete dataset including data on tree and seedling censuses, functional trait data and phylogenetic relationships to explore questions regarding negative density dependence.