Title of symposium:
Frontiers in demographic modeling for tropical forest ecology and conservation

Principal organizer:
Dr. Trevor Caughlin
Department of Biology, Boise State University, USA

Co-organizers:
Dr. Pieter Zuidema
Forest Ecology and Forest Management, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Symposium summary:
Climate change, land-use conversion, and degradation will profoundly alter tropical forests. Predicting the effects of these changes requires an understanding of plant population dynamics. The field of plant demography can provide an important contribution to meeting this scientific challenge. Sophisticated models help to understand and predict population dynamics of long-lived plant species, but also to understand the pace of forest succession, the effect of defaunation, and to forecast outcomes of stochastic climatic events. Demographic theory is also in the heart of second generation Earth System Models that use tree demography to simulate effects of climate change on tropical forests worldwide. The increasing availability of long-term monitoring data for tropical forests presents new opportunities for applying demographic models to resolve long-standing ecological questions. Yet tropical plant demography is also faced with important challenges: species-level models can be intractable in highly diverse forests, conservation issues often require a landscape-scale approach that extends beyond the boundaries of forest inventory plots, and non-linear feedbacks are the norm. In this symposium, we bring together a wide range of expertise to address these challenges and to showcase the potential for demographic models in tropical ecology and conservation.

List of speakers and presentation titles:

  1. Dr. Emilio Bruna: “Are there synergistic effects of drought and fragmentation on the demography of tropical understory plants?” University of Florida, USA
  2. Dr. Takashi Kohyama: “Relating demography and primary productivity among tree species and across forests”
    Hokkaido University, Japan
  3. Dr. Jenny Zambrano: "Using Integral Projection Models to study the effects of forest fragmentation on the population dynamics of a late-successional tropical tree”
    University of Maryland, USA
  4. Dr. Rachel Hillyer: “Variation in germination and survival of early life history stages affects the population growth of palms across their elevational ranges.”
    Wake Forest University, USA
  5. Dr. Orou Gauoe: “Low reproductive values confer resilience of mangrove species to harvest”
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
  6. Dr. Marco Visser: “Population-level density-dependence in a tropical forest: Regulation and limitation of an abundant palm species.”
    Princeton University, USA
  7. Dr. Wirong Chanthorn: “When seed dispersal matters: extracting information from spatial-point patterns, demography and seed dispersal networks”
    Kasetsart University, Thailand
  8. Dr. Pieter Zuidema: “Individual heterogeneity drives population growth and induces functional equivalence in Malaysian rainforest trees.”
    Wageningen University, Netherlands