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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:YALE UNIVERSITY
Doing Business As Name:Yale University
PD/PI:
  • Simon Queenborough
  • (203) 432-3660
  • simon.queenborough@yale.edu
Award Date:08/02/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 142,309
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 142,309
  • FY 2021=$142,309
Start Date:09/01/2021
End Date:08/31/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.079
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: IRES: Tropical Research Experience in Ecological Science (TREES): Regeneration dynamics in a hyper-diverse tropical forest
Federal Award ID Number:2107116
DUNS ID:043207562
Parent DUNS ID:043207562
Program:IRES Track I: IRES Sites (IS)
Program Officer:
  • Kleanthis Psarris
  • (703) 292-5048
  • kpsarris@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:Office of Sponsored Projects
City:New Haven
State:CT
ZIP:06520-8327
County:New Haven
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Yale University
Street:195 Prospect Street
City:New Haven
State:CT
ZIP:06511-8499
County:New Haven
Country:US
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

The number and severity of abnormal weather events, such as storms and droughts, have increased in recent decades all over the world. In the tropical forests of South America, two large drought events occurred in 2005 and 2010, and more will likely happen in the future. Although most tropical forests have a regular and predictable dry season that lasts several months, those that lie in the northwestern corner of the Amazon region do not. Here, high rainfall occurs in every month of the year, and researchers think that these forests may be hit particularly hard by lower rainfall. No one knows if these trees have had any previous experience of drought conditions. If they do grow poorly or die when there is no rain, then the kinds of trees that make up these forests may be quite different in future, leading to changes in how the forest works, as well as in the availability of food for animals and resources for people. This International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) project will carry out experiments to look at how tree seedlings of this area respond to drought, and how drought affects the other animals that interact with trees. The award addresses a critical scientific challenge while building capacity and experience in field and lab techniques among U.S. graduate and undergraduate students. To this end, we will mentor six U.S. students every year during the spring semester before, and fall semester after, they embark on an overseas research experience in Ecuador, working with long-term collaborators of PIs Queenborough and Metz at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, as well as with Ecuadorian students. Masters’ and undergraduate students from Yale University will be paired with undergraduates from Lewis & Clark College, a primarily undergraduate institution, to develop and conduct ecological research in a remote field station in the Amazon rain forest: Yasuni National Park. This project will address a key knowledge gap in forest ecology and climate change science: how do aseasonal ever-wet tropical forests respond to drought and natural enemies? The answer has clear implications for theoretical ecology (how infrequent disturbance, i.e., drought, affects the dynamics and composition of diverse ecological communities), climate change ecology (how forest structure, composition and distribution will likely change in the future), and policy (whether tropical forests remain a net carbon sink, or switch to a net carbon source thereby accelerating climate change). Tropical aseasonal ever-wet rain forests are characterized by high rainfall and no dry season, as well as high biological diversity and globally significant carbon stocks. However, anthropogenic climate change is predicted to lead to increases in the frequency and severity of droughts in South America. Drought is expected to act synergistically with other abiotic and biotic factors such as the pests and pathogens that drive the negative density-dependence that helps maintain the high diversity found in the tropics. Recent work has focused on the impacts of drought on tropical seasonal forests, yet virtually nothing is known about how pest and pathogen pressure varies with water availability in the aseasonal ever-wet tropics nor how increasing drying may change the structure and function of these forests. This project, therefore, will investigate the interaction between climate and natural enemies on the performance of trees in a hyper-diverse, aseasonal tropical rain forest in the northwestern Amazon. Specifically, the research team will use experiments to test the effect of variation in water availability on pest and pathogen attack on young seedlings and how these effects will likely alter the strength and direction of negative density dependence; this information will transform current theoretical understanding of how these two factors affect tree performance, diversity, and distributions. Results will also provide key information on how these economically and ecologically valuable, yet largely unknown, forests will change in a future of increasing drought. The prime goal of this project is to build capacity and experience in field and lab techniques among U.S. graduate and undergraduate students. To this end, the PIs will mentor six U.S. students every year during the spring semester before, and fall semester after, they embark on an overseas research experience in Ecuador, working with long-term collaborators of PIs Queenborough and Metz at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, as well as with Ecuadorian students. Masters and undergraduate students from Yale University will be paired with undergraduates from Lewis & Clark College, a primarily undergraduate institution, to develop and conduct ecological research in a remote field station in the Amazon rain forest: Yasuni National Park. Yasuni National Park and the associated Forest Dynamics Plot are unique scientific resources. Exposing U.S. students to the incredible richness of the most diverse forest in the world is an inspiring and humbling experience. Students will be involved in meaningful research that is directly contributing to a broad understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that structure ecosystems and communities. Ensuring that students understand how such science is conducted and how they can contribute is essential for how future generations decide to manage the world they inherit. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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