May 16, 2013

CTFS- SIGEO and Smithsonian Institution represented at The Prince of Wales' meeting in London

CTFS-SIGEO Director, Stuart Davies, and Senior Staff Scientist and leader of the CTFS-SIGEO Functional Traits Initiative, Joe Wright, represented the Smithsonian Institution and STRI in 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. 

The science group agreed on a memorandum that describes a series of concerns and initiatives required to halt the loss and degradation of tropical forests. This memorandum, the "St James’s Palace Memorandum on Tropical Forest Science", was presented to Prince Charles, senior representatives of Governments, and leaders from civil society and the private sector. Prince Charles is extremely motivated and supportive of this initiative. He has been working for a number of years towards building a strategy on curbing global deforestation.

The meeting culminated in a series of short presentations by Prince Charles, scientists, several representatives of government (UK, US, and Germany), and the business community. Stuart had the opportunity to talk about the mission of CTFS and the value of the large plot network while Joe was able to discuss restoration and conservation with the group. The US Ambassador to the UK, Barbara Stephenson, who had two stints as Ambassador to Panama, spoke very enthusiastically of her introduction to tropical forests at STRI in Panama.

For a link to the Memorandum, click here 

May 9, 2013

CTFS-SIGEO Network Article Published In current volume of PNAS

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) has published an article in the latest volume, called
Species distributions in response to individual soil nutrients and seasonal drought across a community of tropical trees
written by CTFS- SIGEO researchers Richard Condit, Bettina M. J. Engelbrecht, Delicia Pino, Rolando PĂ©rez, and Benjamin L. Turner
Find full article here.

Find commentary on the article here.

Tropical forest vegetation is shaped by climate and by soil, but understanding how the distributions of individual tree species respond to specific resources has been hindered by high diversity and consequent rarity.
To study species over an entire community, we surveyed trees and measured soil chemistry across climatic and geological gradients in central Panama and then used a unique hierarchical model of species occurrence as a function of rainfall and soil chemistry to circumvent analytical difficulties posed by rare species.

The results are a quantitative assessment of the responses of 550 tree species to eight environmental factors, providing a measure of the importance of each factor across the entire tree community.

Dry-season intensity and soil phosphorus were the strongest predictors, each affecting the distribution of more than half of the species.

Although we anticipated clear-cut responses to dry-season intensity, the finding that many species have pronounced associations with either high or low phosphorus reveals a previously unquantified role for this nutrient in limiting tropical tree distributions.

The results provide the data necessary for understanding distributional limits of tree species and predicting future changes in forest composition.