The US National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity initiative has awarded CTFS $631,640 over five years to study the taxonomic, genetic, and functional dimensions of tree diversity and their impact on forest structure and function. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University will manage the grant, and the Chinese National Science Foundation will provide matching funds.
The research will combine long-term temperate and tropical forest studies across entire tree communities to parameterize models that incorporate functional and genetic variation among species to test predictions about current and future changes in forests. Integration of multiple dimensions of biodiversity will significantly increase understanding of how forests are structured‹a critical and necessary step toward predicting how these systems will respond to global change.
The project will involve many partners sites of the global CTFS-SIGEO network.
Dimensions IRCN: Diversity and Forest Change: Characterizing functional, phylogenetic, and genetic contributions to diversity gradients and dynamics in tree communities
Understanding diversity’s impact on forest structure and function: The project will 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 affect their resilience to global change. Together these networks maintain 24 large-scale forest plots in tropical and temperate forests in Asia and the Americas, providing data on the demography, functional traits, phylogenetic relatedness, and environmental preferences of thousands of species. Through a series of symposia, analytical workshops, and international scientific exchanges, these data will be used to ask: (i) what functional traits underlie species demographics and distributions across environmental gradients, (ii) how functional traits and phylogenetic relatedness of communities link to forest function; and (iii) how functional traits and environmental tolerances vary among individuals within species.; and (iv) how gene flow contributes to genetic diversity at local and regional scales. By combining long-term temperate and tropical forest studies across entire tree communities, we will be able to parameterize models that incorporate knowledge about functional and genetic variation among species to test predictions about current and future changes in the forests.
Building capacity in biodiversity research: The project will be implemented through a series of capacity-building and training initiatives that will expand science and enhance collaboration between the US and China. The strengthening of the network of forest research plots in Asia and the Americas will have long-term benefits for American and Chinese researchers examining the role of forests in a changing global environment. Through workshops and symposia focused on the relationships between taxonomic, functional, and genetic dimensions of biodiversity and ecosystem processes, we will engage approximately 100 students and early-career scientists over five years. An international scientific exchange program will enable 10 US students and early-career researchers to spend 3 months in collaborating institutions in China. Chinese scientists will have similar opportunities in the US through a parallel proposal to NSF-China. These scientists will be drawn from the US, China, and other developing countries in Asia and the Americas. In addition, the scientific workshops will result in the development of new analytical tools and data compilations that will be made openly available through the web.