Rachel Ward investigates tropical forests’ reproductive efforts on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

This summer, second year PhD student Rachel Ward visited research partners at the tropical forest research station on Barro Colorado Island, where she spent her days collecting and processing material from litterfall traps on islands’ 50-hectare forest dynamics plot. The long-running litterfall dataset is central to her Masters project, which probes correlations between tree species’ functional traits and their allocation of energy to reproduction. 

Highlights from summer fieldwork in 2019

Lots of us were in the field this summer – seeking new field sites, collecting data in existing ones, and taking samples that will be the subject of additional work over the coming months. Several highlights to follow… In addition, before speaking at the International Association in Landscape Ecology World Congress in Milan, Lara visited the Dolomites in N. Italy where she saw old wildflower friends (Silene acaulis) and met new ones (Aquilegia atrata).

Sophia Bagshaw earns honors in CNR

Sophia Bagshaw, who is graduating with honors in Environmental Sciences from the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley this month gave a terrific presentation on her honors research, “Coast Redwoods and Climate Change: Age-based Differences in Hydraulic Traits.” She worked closely with postdoc Tom Powell and will present her results again at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Kentucky this summer. Congratulations Sophia!

Climate Change Impacts in Alpine Plant Communities

Jabis-MeredithCongratulations to Meredith Jabis for filing her dissertation! This hard won accomplishment is just the start. She has a paper in review and two more in development, with ambitions to expand her analyses of GLORIA (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments) data from RMBL and other sites in the Western US.

Tropical forest resilience to drought

Fig from Powell_et_al-2018 hydroclimate variation sustains functional diversity and tropical forest biomassPostdoc Tom Powell just published a terrific new paper in New Phytologist! He used the ED2 vegetation demographic model to show how hydroclimate variability contributes to tropical forest functional diversity, which in turn makes forest biomass resilient to many drought scenarios. This is exciting work for a number of reasons: 1) Tom developed model parameterizations that allow coexistence of tree functional types competing for both light and water in a tropical forest, 2) the modeled forest structure and dynamics meet benchmarks collected over many years at Barro Colorado Island, Panama, and 3) the predictions suggest that compensation by co-occurring trees can buffer drought impacts on aboveground biomass — except if the dry seasons become much drier.