New paper using long-term Volcan Barva vegetation data published in PLOS One

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April 1, 2015

Tropical Rain Forest Structure, Tree Growth and Dynamics Along a 2700-m Elevational
Transect in Costa Rica

Rapid biological changes are expected to occur on tropical elevational gradients as
species migrate upslope or go extinct in the face of global warming. We established a
series of 9 1-ha plots in old-growth tropical rainforest in Costa Rica along a 2700 m
relief elevational gradient to carry out long-term monitoring of tropical rain forest
structure, dynamics and tree growth. Within each plot we mapped, identified, and
annually measured diameter for all woody individuals with stem diameters ¬>10 cm for
periods of 3-10 years. Wood species diversity peaked at 400-600 m and decreased
substantially at higher elevations. Basal area and stem number varied by less than
two-fold, with the exception of the 2800 m cloud forest summit, where basal area and
stem number were approximately double that of lower sites. Canopy gaps extending
to the forest floor accounted for <3% of microsites at all elevations. Height of highest
crowns and the coefficient of variation of crown height both decreased with increasing
elevation. Rates of turnover of individuals and of stand basal area decreased with
elevation, but rates of diameter growth and stand basal area showed no simple relation
to elevation. We discuss issues encountered in the design and implementation of this
network of plots, including biased sampling, missing key meteorological and biomass
data, and strategies for improving species-level research. Taking full advantage of the
major research potential of tropical forest elevational transects will require sustaining
and extending ground based studies, incorporation of new remotely-sensed data and
data-acquisition platforms, and new funding models to support decadal research on
these rapidly-changing systems.

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PDF icon Final resubmission complete file(1).pdf482.56 KB
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