The Scale Property of Tropical Forest Disturbances

Seminar followed by drinks

The size frequency distribution of forest disturbances emerges from the dynamics of mortality and regrowth of trees and is an expression of carbon dynamics in tropical forests. Natural disturbances resulting from tree falls or branch loss are the main cause of high spatial heterogeneity of the canopy structure and aboveground biomass of tropical forests worldwide. Here Fernando will discuss some lessons learned from studying tropical forest disturbances across the Amazon over the past 10 years using an emergent remote sensing methodology to quantify the biomass change in undisturbed tropical forests. Much of his work incorporates remote sensing from lidar and optical sensors, providing key replication at the unimpacted end of an intact-to-degraded ecosystem spectrum. By comparing and contrasting sizes and distributions of natural disturbances, he will discuss the scale property of tropical forest disturbances, how natural disturbances alter and couple the relation between tree diameters and canopy openings, and finally will show to what extent scaling exponents from natural forest disturbances and tree stems are related.

Dr Fernando Espírito-Santo is a lecturer in Environmental Changes in the Tropics at Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) one of the leading interdisciplinary environmental centres in the UK employing over 70 academic staff. He has over 18 years’ experience on remote sensing, developing research at many international institutions (Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, University of New Hampshire and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in US). His research focusses on the impacts of land-use and climate change on tropical ecosystems and the global carbon cycle. He was one of the first researchers to characterize the size and frequency of natural forest disturbances in the Amazon and its implications on the carbon balance (Nature Communications, 2014). He also has examined terrestrial carbon-cycle changes due to anthropogenic disturbances such as deforestation and selective logging and fires. He is a collaborator in many international projects (RAINFOR and BIORED) and in research developed by Brazilian research institutes (EMBRAPA, INPE and INPA). He has a B.S. degree in Forest Engineer from Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) and Master, Ph.D. and Post-Doc from the Brazilian Institute Space Research (INPE), the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) / California Institute of Technology (CalTech), respectively.