Yale-NUS College (Environmental Studies)
& Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
Research Associate, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
My research centers on the ecology of ‘new forests’ — naturally regrowing and planted forests in human-modified landscapes. Much of my work took and still takes place in the context of long-term studies on the dynamics of new forests. During my doctoral research at Wageningen University I established a chronosequence of permanent sample plots in secondary forests in southern Mexico, which is now one of the longest-running studies on secondary forest dynamics in the Tropics. As a postdoc at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama (2008-2013), I worked in a project on the ecosystem services provided by tropical forests. My main responsibility was to design, establish and co-lead two large and long-term field studies. The first was a secondary forest dynamics (SFD) study in the Panama Canal Watershed, with 108 permanent vegetation plots. The second was a 60 hectare reforestation experiment with different combinations of native tree species with contrasting resource acquisition and use strategies.
Currently, I continue to co-lead the SFD study in Panama, which we extended with a similar study in a dry tropical landscape, and as collaborator in STRI’s reforestation experiment. I am also involved in related studies such as a liana removal experiment, a study on the productivity and water-use efficiency in different tree mixtures, and a nutrient addition experiment that seeks to unravel the role of nitrogen fixing trees in tropical forest succession. In Singapore, we are starting up research on the functional ecology of forest fragments, in collaboration with different researchers and research groups.