December 15, 2011

CTFS-SIGEO Celebrates 20 Years of Service from Suzanne Lao

Suzanne Lao, CTFS-SIGEO data manager, began her career at the Smithsonian in Panama as a statistician for the Galeta Oil Spill Project in Naos, and then quickly shifted to CTFS, where she has stayed for almost two decades. Managing the data from the BCI 50 hectare plot has been Suzanne's main responsibility during her many years with CTFS. She recently mentioned that the high quality of the BCI data has also benefited from the great working relationship that she has with colleagues Rolando Pérez and Salomón Aguilar. Suzanne has taken experiences learned from BCI data management and used them to help other sites manage their data. Suzanne has also played a key role in training workshops for the network. Most recently, she has worked to migrate plot data into a modern web-accessible database system, helping transform the way CTFS partners manage and use their data.

Suzanne recently said that the best part of working for CTFS-SIGEO has been getting to know collaborators from different sites, first via email, and then through workshops. She calls the CTFS-SIGEO network a "family," despite differences in language, culture, and scientific approaches. Suzanne is proud of all she has achieved during her years with STRI, and is grateful for her colleagues, particularly Rick Condit, who supports her in learning new database and analytical tools. She looks forward to meeting new people and continuing to advance her knowledge as STRI and CTFS-SIGEO grow and change. The entire CTFS-SIGEO community thanks Suzanne for her commitment, expertise, and dedication to the global network.

December 14, 2011

California Temperate Forest Plot Joins CTFS-SIGEO Network

The University of California Santa Cruz Forest Ecology Research Plot (UCSC-FERP), located in the UCSC Campus Natural Reserve, will expand from its original size of 6 ha to 16 ha as it joins the CTFS-SIGEO network. This Mediterranean climate, mixed evergreen coastal forest plot was originally established in 2007 by PI Gregory Gilbert and colleagues, and contains 8,180 tagged stems from 31 species and 18 families. The four dominant species are Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), Shreve's Oak (Quercus parvula var. shrevei) and Tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus); Fagaceae and Pinaceae together comprise three-fourths of all stems. Additional studies at the site investigate soil nutrients, texture, and moisture, as well as understory light conditions. There is also ongoing monitoring of phenology, micrometeorology, small terrestrial mammals, bats, fungi, and arthropods.

Plot expansion will bring several new aspects to the site, such as the ability to follow population dynamics, an expansion into different soil types, and the inclusion of an area that has undergone significant canopy mortality in the last two decades for unknown reasons. The expanded plot will also include a significant area of redwood-dominated forest. Over 100 students have already been involved in plot studies through undergraduate courses, senior theses, and internships, and this plot expansion promises expanded research and educational opportunities.

Dr. Gregory Gilbert in the UCSC forest dynamics plot

November 10, 2011

African Savanna Plot Joins the CTFS-SIGEO Network

On August 14th, 2011, tree mapping and tagging began at the Mpala forest dynamics plot in Kenya. The new plot is within the Mpala Research Centre and Wildlife Foundation. The 150-hectare plot is the first CTFS-SIGEO plot in Savanna vegetation, with an open tree canopy and grassy and herbaceous understory. The plot traverses two distinct soil types: black cotton soils at higher elevations, which are dominated by the “whistling thorn” acacia (A. drepanolobium), and red clay soils in lower terrain, with a diverse flora of including several other acacia species. 
Mpala plot researchers with CTFS Africa Program Coordinator David Kenfack (far right)
Despite being almost on the equator, the plot is 1,660 m above sea level and is consequently not as botanically diverse as many CTFS-SIGEO tropical forest plots.  The tree species diversity is estimated to be around 100 species. Some common species include: Acacia mellifera, Acacia nilotica, Acacia brevispica, Acacia xanthophloea, Acacia etbaica, Boscia angustifolia, Balanites aegyptiaca,  Balanites glabra, Maerua sp., Combretum molle, Mystroxylon sp., and Scutia myritina.

Although of moderate botanical diversity, the savanna has an exceptional diversity of wildlife, including: elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, hippos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyena, wild dogs, and many species of antelope. The herbivorous species have a huge impact on the plant community.  

Before the commencement of the work at Mpala, twelve staff took part in a one-week training session where they learned CTFS standard field protocols and data management techniques. The team has already encountered several new challenges associated with the Savanna ecosystem: many individual plants have multiple stems with low branching heights, many species have large, sharp thorns, and staff have to be alert, having to play hide and seek with the elephants and other wildlife during fieldwork! As of October 29, 2011, an area covering 13 ha had been mapped and tagged, and included seven species. As expected, tree density is low, with an average of 792 trees per hectare.

Staline Kibet and David Kenfack contributed to this post.

November 1, 2011

Plot Census Finished in Pacific Northwest Temperate Forest of the U.S.

Fieldwork for the establishment of the Wind River Forest Dynamics (WFDP) plot finished in early October. Located in southwest Washington State, the plot extends 800 m east-west and 320 m north-south, for a total area of 25.6 ha. This configuration matches the Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot in California and the Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot in Wisconsin. The WFDP has approximately 35,000 trees (data entry not yet complete). In addition to tagging all woody stems according to the CTFS protocol, the project has mapped snags ≥10 cm dbh, continuous patches of shrub cover ≥2 m2, and large woody debris ≥50 cm diameter. Snags remain standing for decades in the Pacific Northwest, and constitute important habitat for vertebrates. Snag height and decomposition class will be measured as part of the 5-year measurements to track snag devolution over time. The project team measures shrubs because they form dense patches that inhibit tree regeneration, and woody debris because it can remain an important part of the ecosystem for centuries.
From left, Sean McMahon(SIGEO), Andy Jones (Oregon State), Stuart Davies (SIGEO),
and Jim Lutz (WFDP PrincipalInvestigator) in front of a typical Douglas-fir, 72 meters tall.

Wind RiverForest Dynamics Plot 2011 volunteers, Rachel Mickey,
Cassie Gamm, Dani Lange, SeanJeronimo, and James Freund,
demonstrate their techniques on the last dayof nailing.
The WFDP was established by the PIs (Jim Lutz and Andrew Larson), their students, a dedicated and waterproof field crew, and a large cadre of volunteers. The grid survey was conducted by surveying professionals and instructors and students from University of Washington, University of Montana, and Clark College.

More information about the Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot can be found at

October 18, 2011

Publications: July-September 2011

Arias García, J.C., Duque Montoya, A.J., Cárdenas López, D., 2009. Crecimiento diamétrico de un bosque del Noroccidente amazónico. Revista Colombia Amazónica Nueva Época Vol. 2, 57-64.

Barreto Silva, J.S., Duque Montoya, A.J., Cárdenas López, D., Moreno Hurtado, F.H., 2010. Variación florística de especies arbóreas a escala local en un bosque de tierra firme en la Amazonia colombiana. Revista Acta Amazónica, 40(1): 179-188.

Calle Rendón, B.R., Moreno Hurtado, F.H., Cárdenas López, D, 2011. Relación entre suelos y estructura del bosque en la Amazonía colombiana, Biología Tropical Vol. 59 (3): 1307-1322.

Cárdenas López, D., Cordero Parada, Z., Salinas Nelson, R., Suárez Suárez, S., Zuluaga Trochez, A., Barreto Silva, J.S.,  Arias García,  J.C.,, Castaño Arboleda, N., Duque Montoya, Á.J., Sua Tunjano, S., 2010. Composición florística de diez hectáreas de la Parcela Permanente Amacayacu, Amazonia colombiana, Revista Colombia Amazónica Nueva Época Vol. 3: 141-177.

Martin, A.R., and Thomas, S.C., 2011. A Reassessment of Carbon Content in Tropical Trees. PlosOne 6(8), e23533.

McEwan, R.W., Lin, Y.-C., Sun, I.-F.,  Hsieh, C.-F., Su, S.H., Chang, L.-W., Song, G.-Z.M., Wang, H.-H., Hwong, J.-L., Lin, K.-C.,  Yang, K.-C.,  Chiang, J.-M., 2011. Topographic and biotic regulation of aboveground carbon storage in subtropical broad-leaved forests of Taiwan. Forest Ecology and Management 262, 1817–1825.

Peña, M.A., Cárdenas López, D., Duque Montoya, A.J., 2010. Distribución de especies y su relación con la variación ambiental y espacial a escala local en un bosque de tierra firme en la Amazonía colombiana. Revista Actualidades Biológicas, 32(92): 41-51.
Currently unavailable

Rüger, N., Berger, U., Hubbell, S.P., Vieilledent, G., Condit, R., 2011. Growth strategies of tropical tree species: Disentangling light and size effects. PLoS ONE, 6:e25330.

Rüger, N., Huth, A., Hubbell, S.P., Condit, R., 2011. Determinants of mortality across a tropical lowland rainforest community. Oikos, 120:1047–1056.

Van Breugel, M., J. Ransijn, D. Craven, F. Bongers, J. S. Hall, 2011. Estimating carbon stock in secondary forests: Decisions and uncertainties associated with allometric biomass models. Forest Ecology and Management 262, 1648–1657.

October 14, 2011

Regional Meetings Promote Collaboration Between South American CTFS-SIGEO Plots

From 19-24 September 2011, scientists from several Neotropical forest plots met in Brazil to outline research goals and identify opportunities for increased regional collaboration. Participants also presented their work at the 10th Brazilian Congress of Ecology symposium, which focused on current research in large-scale plot networks such as CTFS-SIGEO, the São Paulo Permanent Plot network (PPP) and the Bolivian Forest Research Institute (IBIF). Meeting and symposium participants included Alvaro Duque from the National University of Colombia- Sede Medellin  and PI for the Amacayacu plot, Alberto Vicentini from the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) and PI for the Manaus plot, Renato Valencia from the Papal Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE) and PI for the Yasuni plot, Alexandre de Oliveira, from the University of São Paulo and PI for the Manaus and Ilha do Cardoso plots, and Tania Brenes, Neotropical Coordinator for CTFS-SIGEO. Researchers also had the unique opportunity to visit the Ilha do Cardoso plot, pictured below.  This first-of-its-kind regional meeting was a great success and will lead to expanded regional research collaborations.

Ilha do Cardoso forest plot

September 8, 2011

CTFS-SIGEO Grant Recipient Faith Inman-Narahari Investigates Seedling Dynamics in Hawai’i

Doctoral candidate Faith Inman-Narahari recently established 64 census stations to measure seed rain and seedling distribution, abundance, survival and growth within the mapped Laupāhoehoe Forest Dynamics Plot, part of the Hawaiian Permanent Plot Network (HIPPNET). Supported by a CTFS-SIGEO research grant, Faith has applied ecological theory and studied forest plot dynamics patterns in the unique testing ground of the Hawaiian Islands. The most remote archipelago in the world, Hawai’i contains 25 of the 35 global life zones and is known for relatively low levels of tree diversity and high levels of endemism. 

The results of the study provide a comparison between the Hawaiian forests and other mainland and island forests. Interestingly, based on comparisons of published data from five other CTFS-SIGEO plot studies, Inman-Narahari has found that dispersal and habitat limitation and the proportion of species with significant habitat associations does not show a clear relationship with global diversity patterns. The project will continue with support from the USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF), the University of Hawai’i, the University of California Los Angeles, and the Garden Club of America. Future publications will include tests of the effects of habitat and negative density dependence on growth and survival in both wet and dry Hawaiian forest. More information about Faith’s research is available through UCLA and on her blog

Faith Inman-Narahari records data in Hawaiian forest plot

August 11, 2011

NSF-Supported Scientific Exchange Fellow Erin Kurten Expands CTFS-SIGEO Partnerships in China

The National Science Foundation grant to CTFS-SIGEO (DEB-1046113), in addition to supporting the recent workshop and symposium, provides support for a program of scientific exchange between the US and China. Young US-based researchers are spending periods of one to three months in collaborating labs in China to pursue studies on the dimensions of biological diversity in the world’s forests. Dr. Erin Kurten, post-doctoral fellow with CTFS at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, is the first of these fellows and will spend one month in Shenyang, home of the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute for Applied Ecology.

While in Shenyang, Erin is working directly with Dr. Zhanqing Hao (Professor and Head of the Research Center of Forest Ecology and Forestry Eco-Engineering at CAS) and his research group. Erin is helping develop of a set of guidelines for focal tree-based monitoring of tree phenology in CForBio forest plots. Additionally, she is collaborating with group members Dr. Xugao Wang and graduate student Yuqiang Zhao on a project to understand the mechanisms underlying a set of previously described positive and negative tree species associations.

Dr. Erin Kurten of CTFS- SIGEO works with Dr. Xugao Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Erin has been warmly welcomed by Dr. Hao’s group; they have helped her settle into Shenyang and are introducing her to the culinary diversity of Northeastern China. With more intellectual and culinary collaborations to come, Erin’s month in Shenyang promises to be a good one!

August 5, 2011

NSF-US and NSF-China Build Foundation for Bilateral Science Collaboration through support of CTFS-SIGEO and CForBio Science and Training Partnership

A delegation from the US National Science Foundation met with counterparts from NSF-China in Beijing, China, on 27-28 July 2011, at a Biodiversity Symposium organized by CTFS-SIGEO and the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network (CForBio).

Representatives of both NSF and NSF-C spoke of the importance of their jointly funded program, “Dimensions of Biodiversity”, for building partnerships and strengthening capacity in biodiversity science between the US and China. The joint funding provides five years of support for workshops, scientific exchange visits, and the enhancement of bioinformatics tools for biodiversity research.

The goal of the program is to advance understanding of the multiple dimensions of biodiversity and how those dimensions relate to the resilience of forest communities. The long-term sustainability of forests and the services they provide depend on our ability to predict forest responses to changes in climate and land-use at a global scale.

Dimensions of Biodiversity Symposium, Beijing, China.

The NSF delegation included Penelope Firth, Deputy Director, Division of Environmental Biology; William Chang, Head of the East Asia and Pacific Program and Interim Executive Officer of International Science and Engineering; Emily Ashworth, Director of NSF China Office; and Program Officers James Wang, Sarah Mathews and Alan Tessier.

The NSF-China delegation included Zhenliang Yu, Ecology Division Director; Yinghui Liu, Ecology Program Director; Huai Chen, Director Division of American, Oceanian and Eastern European Programs; and Xiuping Liu, Program Manager, Division of American, Oceanian and Eastern European Programs.

July 19, 2011

CTFS-SIGEO/CForBio Analytical Workshop and Symposium in China Underway

Working group participants in Changbaishan Station.
by Tania Brenes 

Between the 13th and 29th of July, 2011 CTFS-SIGEO scientists are participating in an Analytical Workshop and Symposium in China. We are currently staying at the Changbaishan Field Station in the province of Jilin in Northeast China doing analytical work. There are over 60 participants from 16 different countries and regions. For two weeks, different work groups will be focused on analyzing CTFS-SIGEO data  to answer questions about long term changes in forest dynamics, phylogenetics and diversity, functional traits, spatial patterns, carbon and biomass and seedling recruitment. Our analytical work is complemented by informal talks and the exciting cultural diversity of the group.

The workshop will end with a two day symposium in Beijing on “Diversity and Forest Change”. This is the first of a series of five workshops funded by NSF-US and NSF-China, and was organized by CTFS-SIGEO and CforBio.
Participants walk to the field station.

July 6, 2011

Hong Kong Global Forest Observatory Plot Launches with Workshop and Ceremony

On June 25, the Kadoorie Institute of Hong Kong University celebrated the opening of a new forest dynamics plot in Hong Kong. HSBC’s Hong Kong Bank Foundation donated more than USD 700,000 over three years for the plot, which will enable scientific research on forest dynamics in relation to climate change while providing opportunities for public to engagement in citizen science.

CTFS Director Stuart Davies and Principal Investigator Billy Hau of Hong Kong University (HKU) led a one-day workshop on June 24, training twenty-five participants in plot establishment following the standard CTFS protocols. Participants came from the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and Hong Kong University’s School of Biological Sciences and Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre.

An official launch of the Global Forest Observatory was held on June 25 at the Kadoorie Institute Shek Kong Centre (KISK) where a 1-hectare training plot is also being established. The opening was presided over by Teresa Au (Head of Corporate Sustainability, Asia Pacific Region, HSBC), Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui (Vice Chancellor and President, Hong Kong University) and Joseph Sham Chun-hung (Assistant Director, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department). The event received attention in the local media, with several news broadcasts and write-ups expressing excitement about the significance of the new research site.

The 20-ha plot is located in a forest ecosystem that has been impacted by humans for over 4,000 years. The initiative will provide valuable insight into the ecology of a regenerating forest at the margin of the tropics, and will provide training opportunities for over 2,000 citizen scientists.

June 30, 2011

Publications: April – June 2011

Heineman, K.D.,  E. Jensen, A. Shapland, B. Bogenrief, S. Tan, R. Rebarber, S. E. Russo. The effects of belowground resources on aboveground allometric growth in Bornean tree species. Forest Ecology and Management 261 (2011) 1820–1832.
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He, F and S.P. Hubbell. Species-area relationships always overestimate extinction rates from habitat loss. Nature 473 (2011) 368–371.
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Feeley, K. J., S.J. Davies, R. Perez, S. P. Hubbell, and R.B. Foster. Directional changes in the species composition of a tropical forest. Ecology, 92(4), 2011, 871–882.
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McMahon, S. M., Harrison, S. P., Armbruster, W. S., Bartlein, P.J., Beale, C, Edwards, M. E., Kattge, J, Midgley, G,  Morin, X,  and Prentice, I C. Improving assessments of climate-change impacts on global biodiversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 2011. Vol. 26, No. 5.

Meegaskumbura, M., S. Meegaskumbura, G. Bowatte, K. Manamendra-Arachchi, R. Pethiyagoda, J. Hanken and C.J. Schneider. Taruga (ANURA: RHACOPHORIDAE), a new genus of foam-nesting tree frogs endemic to Sri Lanka. Cey. J. Sci. (Bio. Sci.) 39 (2): 75-94, 2010
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Norghauer, J.M., A. R. Martin, E. E. Mycroft, A. James, S. C. Thomas. Island Invasion by a Threatened Tree Species: Evidence for Natural Enemy Release of Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) on Dominica, Lesser Antilles. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18790.
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Pringle, E.G., R.I. Adams, E. Broadbent, P. E. Busby, C. I. Donatti, E. L. Kurten, K. Renton and R. Dirzo. Distinct Leaf-trait Syndromes of Evergreen and Deciduous Trees in a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest. 2011. Biotropica 43(3): 299–308.

Rahbek, C. and R.K. Colwell. Species loss revisited. Nature 473 (2011) 288–289.
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Schnitzer, S.A., J.N. Klironomos, J.  HilleRisLambers, L. L. Kinkel, P. B. Reich, K. Xiao, M. C. Rillig, B.A. Sikes, R.M. Callaway, S. A. Mangan, E.H. van Nes, and M. Scheffer. Soil microbes drive the classic plant diversity–productivity pattern. Ecology, 92(2), 2011, pp. 296–303.
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Uriarte, M., M. Anciaes, M.T.B. da Silva, P. Rubim, E. Johnson, and E.M. Bruna. Disentangling the drivers of reduced long-distance seed dispersal by birds in an experimentally fragmented landscape. Ecology, 92(4), 2011, 924–937.

Visser, Marco D., E. Jongejans, M. van Breugel, P. A. Zuidema, Y. Chen, A. Rahman K. and H. de Kroon. Strict mast fruiting for a tropical dipterocarp tree: a demographic cost–benefit analysis of delayed reproduction and seed predation. Journal of Ecology, published online 23 Mar 2011.

June 24, 2011

CTFS-SIGEO Colleagues Work Towards Real-time Automated Monitoring of Forests and Environmental Change

Workshop participants, back row: Ned Friedman (Arnold Arboretum), Jon Chappell (SAO), Carlos Corrada (UPR), Stuart Davies (CTFS-SIGEO), Christopher Thomas (Oregon State), Biff Bermingham (STRI), Cassidy Rankine (UAlberta), Jess Parker (SERC), Matteo Detto (CTFS-SIGEO), Bill Munger (Harvard), Evan DeLucia (UIllinois), Michael Schindlinger (Leslie), Frank Levinson, Rich Camili (WHOI), Larry Madin (WHOI); front row: David Kenfack (CTFS-SIGEO), Lewis Girod (MIT), Erin Kurten (CTFS-AA), Helene Muller-Landau, Lucy Hutyra (BU), Charlie Harvey (MIT), Scott Gallagher (WHOI).

On June 13-14, twenty-three engineers, environmental scientists and ecologists met at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University to discuss the potential for a standardized instrumentation platform for CTFS-SIGEO sites around the world. The proposed instrumentation platform would provide real-time data on tree growth and health, animal sounds and movements, and climatic and other environmental fluctuations. Real-time data of this sort will provide a powerful addition to how CTFS attempts to link fluctuations in physical and environmental conditions with forest change.

Frank Levinson opened the meeting with his vision for developing a forest ecology “tailplate” – a standardized infrastructure that individual investigators could depend on to easily replicate studies across sites.

Participants gave presentations on a wide variety of potential platform components (including meteorological sensors, automated dendrometer bands, eddy flux systems, cameras and hyperspectral sensors, sound recording equipment and associated analysis programs) and the scientific questions these would address. Participants from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) presented on similar instrumentation initiatives for oceanographic measurements, and relevant lessons for developing a terrestrial platform.

There was wide agreement that with recent technological advances, the time is right to develop and deploy such a standardized instrumentation platform for CTFS-SIGEO sites. Standardized, long-term measurements across CTFS-SIGEO sites would enable robust comparisons among sites, quantification of interannual variation, and better detection of any long-term change.

June 21, 2011

CTFS-SIGEO Program Manager Appointed: Liz Delaney

We are pleased to announce that Liz Delaney has joined the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-SIGEO) as Program Manager for the network.
Liz joins CTFS after working at Earthwatch Institute as the Interim Director of Field Centers, and before that as Program Manager for Regional Climate Centers (part of the HSBC Climate Partnership). Before joining Earthwatch, Liz lived for five years in rural Costa Rica where she worked as a science teacher and curriculum developer at a bilingual environmental education center, and has previously worked as an environmental consultant for the EPA. Liz got her Master’s in Science Education from The George Washington University, and her undergraduate degree in Biology from Boston College. Liz is fluent in Spanish and enjoys traveling, running, spending time with her husband and daughter, and the outdoors. She will be based at the CTFS office at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

May 19, 2011

Workshop on Plot Taxonomic Comparison in Manaus, Brazil

by Tania Brenes
On April 10, 2011, the CTFS Neotropical Program organized the first Workshop on Taxonomic Comparison Among Amazonian CTFS Plots, hosted in Manaus, Brazil. This workshop had the participation of botanists and ecologists from three CTFS plots in the Amazon: the Amacayacu plot in Colombia, the Manaus plot in Brazil, and the Yasuni plot in Ecuador. In the workshop, botanists worked with interns and students on the problem of standardizing a methodology and a philosophy of taxonomic delimitation in these hyper-diverse plots. This work will serve as the basis for a developing collaborative research project on taxonomy between the three scientific groups. 

Workshop participants in the top photo from left to right (institution): Alvaro Perez (4), Juan Sebastian Barreto (5), Alberto Vicentini (1), Ana Carla Gómez (1), Ana Segalin (1), Rolando Pérez (2), Alexandre de Oliviera (3), Dairon Cárdenas (5), Carla Lang (1), Jose Luis Camargo (1), Marcel Caritá (3), Tania Brenes (2), Juliana Vendrami (3), Adriane Pantoja (1). 

Institutions: (1) PDBFF, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Amazonicas; (2) STRI; (3) Universidad de São Paulo; (4) Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; (5) Instituto de Investigaciones Amazónicas Sinchi.

Botanists discuss complex plant specimens in the field (left) and at the comparative collection at the BDFFP (right).

May 17, 2011

HSBC Singapore Collaboration with CTFS-NIE Moves to Phase II

HSBC volunteers with CTFS Research Assistant Ngo Kang Min (right).
by Ngo Kang Min

HSBC Singapore volunteers, in collaboration with CTFS and the National Institute of Education (NIE), have completed the first phase of a forest carbon survey.

The project, a long-term study of the accumulation of carbon in forest trees, will continue in 2011 with the second phase moving to the MacRitchie Reservoir, a primary forest adjacent to the secondary forest in which the first phase was conducted.

HSBC Singapore has donated S$45,000 for the second phase of the carbon survey, which will monitor more than 500 trees in the designated plots. HSBC Climate Champions and staff will continue to be engaged in the field, from putting dendrometer bands on trees to collecting leaf samples.

An HSBC volunteer tags a tree.
This project complements the global HSBC Climate Partnership, where dendrometer bands have been installed in more than 10 sites in the CTFS network, including Bukit Timah in Singapore. This study will enable comparisons between the coastal hill forest of Bukit Timah and the lowland forest of MacRitchie. Carbon stock differences in primary and secondary forests at the two sites will also be examined for a better understanding of carbon sequestration in a matrix of multiple forest communities.

April 29, 2011

BCI 2010 Census Data Online

We are pleased to announce that the data from the 7th census of the 50-hectare plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, are now available. The data can be downloaded at:

The 7th BCI census was supported by National Science Foundation grant DEB-
0948585 to Stephen Hubbell and the Center for Tropical Forest Science of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Rolando Pérez and Salomón Aguilar led the fieldwork for the recensus. Suzanne Lao coordinated the entry, checking and management of the data. Rick Condit oversaw the implementation of the census.
The massive task of recensusing the plot would not have been possible without the efforts of many people who have worked on the BCI 2010 census as well as prior censuses. Thanks and congratulations to all involved!
For more information, please contact Dr. Richard Condit at

CTFS-SIGEO Forest Dynamics Symposium Talks Released

Symposium participants at STRI, Panama.
On February 22nd, 2011, CTFS-SIGEO hosted a forest research symposium at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. The symposium talks focused on new research directions being addressed by the CTFS network in both tropical and temperate forests. Talks were diverse, spanning mathematical modeling of diversity, life history of trees, DNA bar-coding, herbivory, vertebrates, disease ecology, and land use change projections. The symposium was held in the Tupper auditorium at STRI and was broadcast live on the web. Video recordings of the talks are now available at

April 22, 2011

New Book from the CTFS-SIGEO Network: The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia

CTFS is pleased to announce the publication of The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia, edited by William J. McShea, Stuart J. Davies and Naris Bhumpakphan.  William McShea is a research ecologist at the Conservation Ecology Center in the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Smithsonian Institution. Stuart Davies is Director of the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory Program of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Naris Bhumpakphan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Biology at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Seasonally dry forests are the most widespread forest type remaining in South and Southeast Asia. For many endangered species, such as tigers, elephants, deer, and primates, this unique habitat is central to their survival. The forests are also intimately linked to humans in the region, who have lived in and relied on them for centuries. Despite the importance of seasonally dry forests, little is known of their ecology. The chapters in this volume draw connections between forests, endangered species, and agricultural communities in the region. The contributors, many of whom are in-country researchers and managers who have spent years studying this ecosystem, provide an overview of the ecology and conservation of seasonally dry forests in Asia. The book also includes case studies for the conservation of species dependent on these ecosystems, such as tigers, elephants, deer, banteng, and gibbons, and discussions of effective management and conservation of seasonally dry forests.

The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia is published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, and can be purchased here or at

March 31, 2011

Publications: Jan - Mar 2011

Brenes-Arguedas, T., A. B. Roddy, P. D. Coley, T. A. Kursar. 2010. Do differences in understory light contribute to species distributions along a tropical rainfall gradient? Oecologia. Published online 1 Dec 2010.

Goldsmith, G. R., L. S. Comita, and Siew Chin Chua. 2011. Evidence for arrested succession within a tropical forest fragment in Singapore. Journal of Tropical Ecology 27:323–326.

Heckel C. D., N. A. Bourg, W. J. McShea, and S. Kalisz. 2011. Nonconsumptive effects of a generalist ungulate herbivore drive decline of unpalatable forest herbs. Ecology, 91(2), 319–326.

Kress WJ, Erickson DL, Swenson NG, Thompson J, Uriarte M, et al. 2011. Advances in the Use of DNA Barcodes to Build a Community Phylogeny for Tropical Trees in a Puerto Rican Forest Dynamics Plot. PLoS ONE 5(11): e15409.

Meegaskumbura, M. and K. Manamendra-Arachchi. 2011. Two new species of shrub frogs (Rhacophoridae: Pseudophilautus) from Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 2747: 1–18 (2011)

Metz, Margaret, Wayne Sousa, and Renato Valencia. 2010. Widespread density-dependent seedling mortality promotes species coexistence in a highly diverse Amazonian rain forest. Ecology, 91(12),3675-3685

Mohandass, D.and P. Davidar. 2011. The relationship between area, and vegetation structure and diversity in montane forest (shola) patches in southern India. Plant Ecology & Diversity, 3: 1, 67-76

Nock, C.A., P.J. Baker, W. Wanek, A. Leis, M. Grabner, S. Bunyavejchewin and P. Hietz. 2011. Long-term increases in intrinsic water-use efficiency do not lead to increased stem growth in a tropical monsoon forest in western Thailand. Global Change Biology 17, 1049–1063.

Norden, N., R. C. G. Mesquita, T. V. Bentos, R. L. Chazdon & G. B. Williamson. 2011. Contrasting community compensatory trends in alternative successional pathways in central Amazonia. Oikos 120(1), 143-151.

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Wright, S. J., K. Kitajima, N. J. B. Kraft, P. B. Reich, I. J. Wright, D. E. Bubker, R. Condit, J. W. Dalling, S. J. Davies, S. Diaz, B. M. J. Engelbrecht, K. E. Harms, S. P. Hubbell, et al. 2010. Functional traits and the growth–mortality trade-off in tropical trees. Ecology, 91(12), 2010, pp. 3664–3674

Zimmermann, A., B. Zimmermann, and H. Elsenbeer. 2010. Comment on ‘‘Spatial throughfall heterogeneity in a montane rain forest in Ecuador: Extent, temporal stability and drivers” by Wullaert et al. [J. Hydrol. 377 (2009) 71–79]. Journal of Hydrology 395,133–136.

February 15, 2011

New Book from the CTFS-SIGEO Network

We are pleased to announce the publication of Trees of Panama and Costa Rica by Richard Condit, Rolando Pérez and Nefertaris Daguerre. Richard Condit is a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. Rolando Pérez is chief botanist and Nefertaris Daguerre is a forest specialist with the Center for Tropical Forest Science at the STRI.
L-to-R: Richard Condit, Rolando Pérez , and Nefertaris Daguerre.

This is the first field guide dedicated to the diverse tree species of Panama and Costa Rica. Covering almost 500 tropical tree species, Trees of Panama and Costa Rica includes 438 high-resolution color photos, 480 color distribution maps, and concise descriptions of key characteristics for every species. Family and species accounts are treated alphabetically and describe family size, number of genera and species, floral characteristics, and relative abundance. Color distribution maps supplement the species descriptions, and facing-page photographic plates detail bark, leaf, flower, or fruit of the species featured. Helpful appendices contain a full glossary, a comprehensive guide to leaf forms, and a list of families not covered.

Trees of Panama and Costa Rica is published by Princeton University Press and can be purchased here: or at here:

January 28, 2011

Plot Census Finished in the Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil

A new CTFS-SIGEO plot located in high conservation value forest in Ilha do Cardoso State Conservation Park, in the Atlantic Coastal Forests of São Paulo State, southeastern Brazil, has now been finished. Located on a pristine island, this 10.48 ha plot was established in 2004 as part of a four-plot network funded by the State of São Paulo Research Foundation. The plot is in coastal ‘restinga’ forest, a form of coastal heath forest, which is particularly rich in endemic species.

Before 2006, only trees larger than 5 cm DBH had been censused. In 2009, Dr. Alexandre Oliveira from the University of São Paulo conducted a recensus to incorporate trees down to 1 cm. Now, two years and almost 50,000 trees later, the data are entered in the CTFS-SIGEO database, and researchers have started analyses. Ilha do Cardoso Plot researchers welcome collaborative work using the plot. Please contact Dr. Oliveira for further information or see:

January 14, 2011

CTFS-SIGEO Temperate Forest Ecologist and Plot Coordinator Appointed: Dr. Sean McMahon

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Sean McMahon has joined the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-SIGEO) to coordinate research and training activities for the Temperate Forest plots of the CTFS-SIGEO network.