The Functional Ecology of Tropical Montane Forests
This sensor mimics a leaf and records the amount of time that it is wet due to either rainfall or cloud immersion events. My research joins a growing body of evidence demonstrating the critical role that cloud immersion events, and the leaf wetting they cause, play in the function of tropical montane forest plants.
Who: My research on the functional ecology of tropical forests is a collaboration with scientists from across a number of disciplines, currently including Todd Dawson (UC Berkeley), Yadvinder Malhi, Ben Blonder, Lisa Patrick-Bentley, Chris Doughty et al. (University of Oxford), Robin Martin and Greg Asner (Carnegie Institution for Science), Brian Enquist (University of Arizona), and Rolf Siegwolf and Marco Lehmann (Paul Scherrer Institute),
What: Our research is focused on understanding fundamental relationships between climate and plant, community and ecosystem function. We are particularly interested in the impacts of climate change on plant water and carbon relations (e.g. how does drought impact plant water use?).
When: My research in the Tropics started in 2004.
Where: My primary research site is in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I have also carried out research in Mexico, Panama, Brazil and Singapore with a few forays into temperate regions. We are currently building on approaches developed in Mexico in a large-scale project in Switzerland.
Why: Tropical mountains are an outstanding model system in which to study plant function. They often demonstrate striking variation in climate- cloud immersion, rainfall, light availability and temperature -over very short distances, which is ideal for experiments and observations. Moreover, there is a critical need for research; these biodiverse ecosystems are projected to experience unprecedented rates of climate change that has already been correlated with striking changes in plant and animal populations.