April 14, 2014

CTFS-ForestGEO Research Grants Program 2014

The Research Grants Program of the Center for Tropical Forest Science - Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO) supports research associated with the CTFS-ForestGEO network of Forest Dynamics Plots.  A new round of research grants will be awarded in 2014. The majority of the CTFS-ForestGEO research grants will fall in the $2,000-$15,000 range.

The program is intended to provide opportunities for senior researchers, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students to utilize existing Forest Dynamics Plots and to conduct research with scientists associated with these plots. Anyone working directly in a CTFS-ForestGEO plot, analyzing plot data, or generating complementary data that strengthens CTFS-ForestGEO programs is eligible to apply. Projects can be field-oriented, herbarium- or laboratory-based, or analytical, and either basic or applied in nature. Funding is restricted to expenses directly related to field research, laboratory research, and data analysis. Examples of eligible expenses include travel, living expenses during fieldwork, supplies, and research assistance. Funds are not available for salary and/or fringe benefits of the applicant, tuition, non-project personnel, or travel to meetings. In addition, the grants program will NOT support indirect costs for institutional support. Priority will be given to early career researchers, researchers with less access to other institutional funds, and to projects that include multiple sites. Social scientists and natural scientists are encouraged to apply
The deadline for applications is Friday, June 20, 2014.
For more information, please go to the website: http://www.ctfs.si.edu/group/Grants+%26+Training/Grants. Applications MUST follow grant requirements as outlined at that website.

March 28, 2014

Yosemite Forest questions long-term effects of wildfires

Researcher Jim Lutz stands next to a smoldering log
In September 2013, the Rim Fire – a wildfire that began from an illegal campfire in the Sierra Nevada Mountains - burned through 1,041  sq. kms. of the Yosemite National Park, including the Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot (YFDP). While the entire plot burned, most of the plot was spared the full force of the wildfire, burning at intensities lower than needed to kill the larger trees.  However, many trees did die.  Patches of the forest remained unburned yet some patches had considerable tree mortality. Estimates are that about 12,000 out of a total of 36,000 trees being monitored since 2009 died in the fire – mostly trees less than 10 cm in diameter.

How will this effect research at YFDP? Researchers will re-measure the plot this May, prior to the 2014 growing season to record exactly what changes the fire caused. The team will record changes in diameter of trees since the plot was established, as well as the way fire killed trees.  They will also measure changes in surface fuels and in the cover of low shrubs. Gathering this fire-related information will help answer important questions such as:, what were the relationships between trees, fuel accumulation, and tree death? How does fire affect biodiversity?  How does fire change the structure of the forest used by birds and mammals? 
YFDP researchers already perform annual mortality checks, so they will be able to monitor the long terms effects of the fire as well as the immediate effects of forest changes. The results should provide a unique understanding of how fire affects these old-growth forests.

Larger trees mostly survived
During the fire the research team worked with park fire and resource managers to provide assistance with fire planning and safeguarding park resources. The YFDP research team works with Yosemite National Park on a variety of science and management issues. This summer, the re-measurement will be carried out by a core team of four technicians - all with previous experience in the western ForestGEO plots - as well students from Utah State University, University of Montana, Washington State University, and University of Washington. Volunteers will also play a key role – just as they have in every year since 2009. The broad mission of this project is to build a science-based management of Yosemite forests through long-term research and capacity strengthening.

YFDP Research Team: Jim Lutz (Utah State University), Andrew Larson (University of Montana), Mark Swanson (Washington State University), and James Freund (University of Washington).

Click here to learn more about Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot.

March 5, 2014

Camera traps capture images of elusive forest life

Camera traps are the latest research tool used by CTFS-ForestGEO researchers to monitor the growth and life of forests worldwide. Developed by Bart Kranstauber and Yorick Liefting, under supervision of Patrick Jansen of STRI and Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, camera traps are able to capture pictures of rare forest animals and birds in a non-invasive way. 

How does it work? Infrared cameras are secured to a random tree in the forest. When the camera detects a warm blooded animal is close, it begins to rapidly snap pictures. Those photos are then uploaded to a server.  Photos that are taken close to each other are automatically grouped together as they likely have the same animal or group of animals in them. A user-friendly interface then allows researchers to process these groups and identify the animals in them.  After the groups are processed, the data is available for use by researchers all over the world.

This technology has brought a new beginning to the research of various animals in the worlds forests.  The cameras work 24 hours a day. One camera can stay in the forest for 2-3 months, which rapidly increases the chance of capturing photos of the rarest species. These camera traps have even taken photos of the critically endangered Black Rhino.  To see pictures of different species photographed around the world by camera trappings, visit Smithsonian Wild.

Watch the YouTube video to see the cameras actually attached to trees in the forest.

To learn more about this innovative network, visit the Camera Trapping Database site.

January 28, 2014

New 'Nature' article receiving lots of media coverage

The paper, entitled "Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size" by a group of researchers including several CTFS scientists has inspired news reports from Nature, Archangel Ancient Tree Archives, csi-fm.org, foresteurope.org, Science Daily and The Conversation, just to name a few. The article has even been mentioned on numerous scientific blogs and discussion boards. It was posted online on January 15, 2014, and has already sparked a lot of discussion about forest management, and the future of the world's forests. The original paper highlights that, contrary to popular belief, tree growth does not slow down with age. In fact, the growth of a tree often speeds up with maturity.
Both Tropical and Temperate trees
showed no signs of slowing growth
Both Tropical and Temperate trees were included in the long-term study, which collected data from 403 species of trees from around the world.

According to Sci-News.com “Rather than slowing down or ceasing growth and carbon uptake, as we previously assumed, most of the oldest trees in forests around the world actually grow faster, taking up more carbon. A large tree may put on weight equivalent to an entire small tree in a year,” said co-author Dr Richard Condit from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Authors of the original report include: N. L. Stephenson, A. J.Das, R. Condit S. E. Russo, P. J. Baker, N. G. Beckman, D. A. Coomes, E. R. Lines, W. K. Morris,N. Ruger, E. A´ lvarez, C. Blundo, S. Bunyavejchewin, G. Chuyong, S. J. Davies, A´ . Duque, C. N. Ewango, O. Flores, J. F. Franklin, H. R. Grau, Z.Hao, M. E. Harmon, S. P. Hubbell, D. Kenfack, Y. Lin, J.-R. Makana, A. Malizia, L. R. Malizia, R. J. Pabst, N. Pongpattananurak, S.-H. Su, I-F. Sun, S. Tan, D. Thomas, P. J. van Mantgem, X.Wang, S. K.Wiser & M. A. Zavala

The original PDF can be found here.



January 16, 2014

New CTFS - ForestGEO post-doc researcher joins The Winter Lab at STRI

Martijn Slot is a plant ecophysiologist currently working as CTFS - ForestGEO post-doctoral researcher in Klaus Winter’s lab at STRI.  Martijn obtained his PhD from the University of Florida, Gainesville, in the summer of 2013. His research focuses on understanding responses of tropical woody plants to climate change, and the consequences of climate change in the tropics.

Before coming to STRI, Martijn studied plant responses to environmental conditions in a wide range of environments and ecological ways, using a range of techniques. He evaluated Scots pine seedlings in central Siberia, analyzed species differences of lowland tropical forest species in Bolivia, and used dendrochronology of oak stems and roots in the Swiss Alps.
In the past several years, Martijn has primarily worked on temperature effects on tropical trees and lianas. As an experiment, Martijn warmed leaves in a tropical forest canopy to evaluate the capacity for thermal acclimation of leaf respiration. By collaborating with biogeochemists and modelers, results of his research have been used to improve the capacity of global models to simulate the carbon cycle under realistic climate change scenarios.
Martijn is now addressing questions regarding the responses of growth, photosynthesis and respiration of tropical tree species to increased temperatures, and how these responses are affected by source-sink relationships.

Click here to learn more about the researech being done at the Winter Lab.

December 19, 2013

CTFS-ForsestGEO: 2013 in Review

2013 was a highly productive year for the CTFS-ForestGEO network and collaborators. This past year has seen the acquisition of 4 new forest plots, the funding of research grants, trainings and many publications by staff scientists, to name a few. Some 2013 highlights include:  

2013 NSF Network Workshop: July-August, Front Royal, Virginia
Diversity and Forest Change: Characterizing functional, phylogenetic and genetic contributions to diversity gradients and dynamics in tree communities

The goal of this National Science Foundation-funded Project was to bring together two existing forest research networks in the US and China to advance understanding of how taxonomic, functional and genetic dimensions of diversity structure tree communities and relate to the resilience of forests to global change. By combining long-term temperate and tropical forest studies across entire tree communities we aim to develop models that incorporate functional and genetic variation among species, to test predictions about current and future changes in forests.

See official blog about the 2013 Workshop

CTFS- ForestGEO represented at The Prince of Wales' meeting in London

In May 2013, CTFS-ForestGEO Director, Stuart Davies, and Senior Staff Scientist and leader of the CTFS-ForestGEO Functional Traits Initiative, Joe Wright, were part of a two-day workshop on "Critical Challenges and Opportunities for Tropical Forest Science" coordinated by Prince Charles’ Charities’ International Sustainability Unit. It was held in London at the Royal Society and St. James’s Palace, Clarence House.

Read Official blog here.

CTFS-ForestGEO Plot count reaches 53 in 23 countries with the addition of three new plots

Zofin: The reserve is a well-preserved remnant of a natural spruce- silver fir-beech forest, situated in the Novohradskehory Mountains on the southern edge of the Czech Republic.

Scotty Creek: This boreal forest is located in the Hay River Lowlands at 61o81 north, west of Yellowknife, and just south of Fort Simpson, in Canada.

Tyson: located ~20 miles from St. Louis, in the relatively understudied Ozark region of the Midwest.

See official blogs for
Zofin, Scotty Creek, and Tyson.
2013 Research Grant Program

The 2013 cycle of the CTFS-ForestGEO Research Grant Program was highly competitive. Approximately 45 interesting and diverse proposals were submitted from all over the globe. Each proposal was read by network scientists, and ranked according to scientific merit, contribution to the network, educational contribution, and status of the Principle Investor (PI) to determine an overall rank.

See official blog list of the awardees here.

2013 CTFS-ForestGEO Publications

Perhaps the most significant result is the volume of work that is being published by network collaborators. Assembling this diverse group of students, post-docs and other researchers is critical to enabling this productivity. Many of the 46 papers published in the past year have been significant. Several have received notable mentions in other journals or science media.
Search Available publications here.

November 26, 2013

2013 Research Grant Program awardees

The 2013 cycle of the CTFS-ForestGEO Research Grant Program was competitive. Approximately 45 interesting and diverse proposals were submitted from all over the globe.  Each proposal was read by network scientists, and ranked according to scientific merit, contribution to the network, educational contribution, and status of the Principle Investor (PI) to determine an overall rank. 10 proposals were selected for funding. Find a summary of each funded proposal below.

Fruit and flower characteristics of 5 dioecious
tree species

Na Wei, a PhD Candidate at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, submitted Ecological and genetic consequences of effective seed dispersal in tropical trees. The research will take place at BCI, Panama.

Chris Dahl, a PhD candidate with the University of South Bohemia (USB, Czech Republic), submitted Assemblages of seed-and fruit-feeding insects in tropical rainforests: ecological and phylogenetic comparison. Research will take place at BCI, Panama, Khao Chong, Thailand and Wanang, PNG.

Duncan Kimuyu, a third year PhD candidate at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, Kenya, submitted  Factors influencing elephant browsing damage on Acacia drepanolobium trees within the Mpala CTFS-SIGEO plot. Research will take place at Mpala, Kenya.

Gordon McNickel, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Biology submitted Games in the Boreal Forest: A model for tree allocation to roots, wood and leaves based evolutionary stable strategies. Research will be held at Scotty Creek Forest Dynamic Plot in Canada.  

KC Cushman, an Intern with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) submitted Improving Estimates of Biomass Change in Buttressed Trees Using Site-Specific Tree Taper Model. Research will be conducted at Yasuni, Ecuador, Bukit Timah, Singapore, Khao Chong, Thailand and Huai Kha Khaeng, Thailand.

Kang Min Ngo, a research assistant at the National Institute of Singapore submitted What is the loss of large fauna on the dispersal and recruitment of big seeded plan? Research will take place at Bukit Timah, Singapore, Pasoh, Malaysia, Lambir, Malaysia and Khao Chong, Thailand.

Lien Lien, PhD, Director of Programs and Operations - Novell Community Development Solutions submitted Comparative Study of Frugivorous Wildlife Species Contribution to Seed Dispersal between the 50-Ha Korup Forest Dynamic Plot (KFDP) and the 50-Ha Plot within the Korup National Southwest Cameroon. Research will take place at Korup, Cameroon.

Marko Spasojevic, a Postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Biology and Tyson Research Center submitted Investigating the influence of regional functional diversity on local community assembly across a temperate biodiversity gradient. Research will be held at Tyson Research Center, MO, SERC, MD and Yosemite, California.

Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot
Molly Barth, a Master of Science Candidate, Department of Forest Management, College of Forestry and Conservation at The University of Montana submitted Fire history of the Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot. Research will be held at Yosemite, California.

Ryan McEwan, associate professor, Department of Biology at the University of Dayton submitted Taxonomic diversity, functional diversity, and typhoon impacts shape patterns of carbon storage across the topographically complex subtropical forests of Taiwan. Research will be held at Fushan, Taiwan and Lienhuachih, Taiwan.

For more information on the CTFS-ForestGEO Research Grants Program, visit here.