Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Forest Global Earth Observatory

The Center for Tropical Forest Science - Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO) is a global network of forest research plots and scientists dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity. The multi-institutional network comprises 61 forest research plots across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, with a strong focus on tropical regions. CTFS-ForestGEO monitors the growth and survival of approximately 6 million trees and 10,000 species.

Within each of these rather large plots (median size 25 ha), all stems ≥1 cm diameter are identified to species, mapped, and regularly recensused according to standardized protocols. Supplementary standardized measurements at subsets of the sites are used to provide additional information on other associated plants, animals, as well as to record ecosystem and environmental variables.

A new review published in Global Change Biology describes this huge project and its results to date. It is quite encouraging to see that 46% (28) of the sites are using DNA Barcoding to identify plant and animal species. Overall an interesting read. I have to admit I wasn't very much aware of the observatory. I leave it to the authors to state their final conclusions:

The CTFS-ForestGEO forest dynamics sites are representative of the world’s more intact forests, covering a diversity of geographical, climatic, edaphic, topographic, and biotic environments. Yet, even this selection of the world’s more intact forests is being impacted by multifaceted global change drivers. Because many interacting species and processes are simultaneously being affected by a variety of global change pressures, extracting a mechanistic understanding of observed forest changes is challenging, requiring a holistic understanding of the abiotic setting, site history, demography for all tree life stages, trophic interactions, and ecosystem-level processes. The broad suite of measurements made at CTFS-ForestGEO sites makes it possible to understand the complex ways in which global change is impacting forest dynamics.

h/t Scott Miller

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