Seminario 12 de noviembre de 2019


Seminario IIES – Auditorio IIES
Martes 12 de noviembre 2019 / 12:00-13:00

The ecology of Daintree rainforest and its response to experimental drought: a preliminary view

Dra. Susan Laurance
James Cook University

Resumen: Future climate projections suggest that droughts, which already affect large expanses of tropical rainforest globally, could become more frequent and intense in the future. Elevated tree mortality is one of the most important responses to severe drought and may provoke fundamental changes in forest structure and species composition, and subsequently in ecosystem function. Yet the precise cause of tree death is poorly understood, nor which species will be most vulnerable. To address this question, we installed an in-situ drought experiment in the Daintree lowland rainforest. Our research over the last four years spans many aspects of forest ecology and ecophysiology in this lowland forest. For example, we found that species and individual trees vary greatly in their daily water use ranging from 25 – 600 litres of water in a day. They also vary in how they adapt to limiting water with some species changing wood anatomy characteristics. Three tree species, in particular, warrant further study for they support 25% of total stand biomass and contribute significantly to the stand transpiration with water use 2-4 times higher than the other studied species. Finally, drought research is dominated by plant physiology studies that ignore top-down ecosystem processes. Our preliminary research into these trophic processes has found significantly elevated levels of disease and insect attack in foliage and stems of drought-stressed plants. In situ experiments are challenging and imperfect projects but they provide a whole ecosystem perspective that is crucial in tropical forests and reinforces the need for multi-disciplinary approaches to climate change research.

Semblanza: Susan Laurance is James Cook University’s Tropical Leader in Rainforest Ecology and an Associate Professor in the College of Science and Engineering. Susan studies the impacts of human land use and climate change on tropical forest diversity and how we can restore degraded ecosystems. She has demonstrated a sustained record of strong research and innovation, she has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, (which have >16000 citations) and she has worked in tropical forests in Australia, Africa and in Central and South America. She currently studies the impacts of drought on rainforests and how we can accelerate the recovery of tropical forests in degraded lands.

Responsables de la comisión de seminarios:

Dr. Guillermo Murray (
Dra. Monserrat Serrano(

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