Forests and global change
Forests host high biodiversity and regulate climate and ecosystem services, yet are impacted by anthropogenic global changes in unprecedented ways. Tropical forests in particular are not only disappearing at alarming rates but are suggested to be the most vulnerable to climate change. The characterization of forest dynamics (growth, recruitment, mortality) and plant functional traits (size, photosynthesis, leaf nutrition) provides a powerful tool for understanding responses to global change. The focus my current research is to understand the dynamics, ecology, and function of climate-vulnerable tropical forests.
Our understanding of the ecology of semi-evergreen tropical forests of Asia, which exist in isolated patches throughout Indo-Burma, is mostly limited to the research in the CTFS plots in Huai Kha Khaeng and Mudumalai. I’ve partnered with the Bangladesh Forest Department and the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, to characterize the composition, dynamics, and carbon cycling of severely threatened semi-evergreen forests in Bangladesh. In 2016 we established long-term 20 x 20 m plots in Lawachara National Park (LNP) to monitor tree growth, recruitment, and mortality and 2) to investigate the relationship between tree diversity and total forest carbon (biomass, decomposition, soil carbon, and soil CH4, CO2 efflux). We found that tree diversity explains ~65% of the variation in soil organic carbon and that these forests are net sinks of methane and carbon dioxide (In prep).