Here are some projects which the Laboratorio de Ecología Ecosistémica Tropical is leading and/or participating in:
Drivers of greenhouse gas emissions in a tropical dry forest
Dry forests cover vast expanses of the tropics, and are likely to expand more given predicted drought in many tropical areas due to climate change. Nevertheless, information on the factors that control soil fluxes of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane are limited. So is information on the capacity of dry forest tree species to adapt to more intense and frequent drought and forest fires. In collaboration with Cristina Chinchilla (UCR), Roberto Cordero (UNA), Braulio Vilchez (ITCR) and Jennifer Powers (U. Minnesota), we are investigating the effects of soil properties, forest successional age and rainfall seasonality on the fluxes of these gases, as well as the drought and fire tolerance of several tree species. Stay tuned for publications!
Effects of long-term fertilization on decomposition and soil CO2 fluxes in a tropical lowland wet forest
Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen is now a reality over large areas of the tropics, and atmospheric deposition of phosphorus could become more intense with increasing desertification and dust deposition. This has the capacity to create profound changes in the structure and function of these ecosystems. Our lab is currently starting work at Earth Forest Fertilization Experiment (EFFEX) in collaboration with Silvia Alvarez-Clare (Morton Arboretum), the founder of EFFEX, Megan Midgley (Morton Arboretum) and Victor Hugo Morales Peña (EARTH) to investigate how long term nutrient additions influence CO2 fluxes and other important soil processes and vegetation dynamics.
Organic phosphorus dynamics in tropical forest soils
Phosphorus (P) is one of the most limiting nutrients to tropical forest productivity, thus understanding the controls on phosphorus bioavailability is important. Organic P is a high proportion of total soil P, and its mineralization is thought to make an important contribution to P bioavailable for plants. In collaboration with Benjamin Turner (STRI) I am investigating fundamental aspects of the tropical organic P cycle. We hope to provide improved mechanistic understanding of soil P dynamics, helpful to understand how forests work, their response to global anthropogenic change, and P regulation of the tropical C cycle.
PhD Student Stanimira Deleva (Principal Advisor: Gloriana Chaverri, UCR; co-advisor A. Vincent) is currently a member of EcoEcos. She wants to understand the effect of bat-inhabited caves of the Brunca region in Costa Rica on nutrient enrichment (due to guano deposition) of adjacent areas. You can visit the Brunca Bats website here.
Nitrogen Fixation in mosses and lichens in highland oak forests
MSc Student Marcel Zúñiga (Main advisor: Mauricio Fernández, UCR; co-advisor, Andrea Vincent) is currently quantifying N fixation rates of the main lichen and moss species found in high elevation Quercus forests in Costa Rica. This is a previously understudied process in tropical forests.