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Tropical forests responses to a changing climate:

a quest at the interface between trait-based ecology, forest dynamics and remote sensing

Funded by NERC-IRF 2021-2025

In this project I aim at improving our understanding of tropical forest responses to global change drivers by integrating established biodiversity metrics with state-of-the-art functional traits, spatially explicit multidecadal vegetation information and remote sensing approaches. This novel approach and new understanding are essential for developing robust conservation and management strategies and will contribute to national and international biodiversity conservation goals.

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Tracking plant functional traits across the tropics with satellite remote sensing

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Using in situ plant functional traits and vegetation census data collected at a pantropical scale offers a unique and unprecedented opportunity to validate satellite remote sensing for predicting community leaf trait composition.


In this project I use such data, including Sentinel-2 imagery from the European Space Agency across different tropical regions from Australia, South East Asia, Africa and South America to

                           

                          1) investigate if satellite remote sensing in conjunction to climatic and soil information would render relevant information on local to global traits distributions across the tropics; and to

                          2) disentangle to what extent also functional diversity estimates can be reliably extracted at a pantropical scale. This analyses will facilitate the understanding of functional traits ranges and ecosystems functional diversity levels across tropical forest ecosystems.

The mian publication related to this work is now in review in Remote Sensing of Environment and hopefully will upload it soon to the site!

Discovering the effects of environmental changes on Latinamerican forest ecosystems

In this project I am looking into how past and near present changes in environmental conditions (e.g. climate and land use change) are modifying the forests compisition. However, more than only looking at these chnages based on taxonomic entities I am looking at it under the lens of functional traits. I use functional traits of plants because they are the 'tools' that allow species to adapt to the new environmental conditions or shift towards more suitable locations.

I focus on answering two main questions:

1) Are forests shifting in trait composition?

I am analysing first if Latinamerican forest communities are shifting in trait composition and if such changes are due to modifications in environmental conditions.

 

 

2) What is the potential for multispectral reflectance approaches to aid mapping of canopy traits at large-scale?

Scaling trait patterns provides scaled-up knowledge of trait variation in space and time and allows us to track them across time and space. Here I look into the application of high spectral, spatial and temporal resolution satellite remote sensing, as Senitnle-2, and also multispectral drone-based remote sensing to track tree canopy functional traits across large spatial scales in South America.

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Effects of a changing environment in Chilean forests

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I, together with other partners from Oxford University and local partners in Chile from the Universidad Austral, are working on setting new plots along a latitudinal gradient from Santiago all the way south to Magallanes in Chile. We have selected six different locations across the gradient and we have stablished two 1ha plots per site. Our sites are in i) Las Cabras (34 South) ii) Parque Nacional 7 Tazas (35.4 South) iii) San Pablo de Tregua (39.6 South) iv) Correntoso (41.5 South) v) Reserva Tapanandra (45 South) and vi) Reserva Nacional de Magallanes (53 South).

In Chile we are carrying out plot censuses for all vegetation equal or above 10cm DBH and we are also collecting soil characteristics, LiDAR vegetation structure with the ZEB1 handheld equipment, multispectral imagery with the Inspire 1 drone and the ALTUM MicaSense camera that obtains 5 spectral bands and a thermal one.