Helene C. Muller-Landau
Staff Scientist, Lead Scientist of CTFS Global Forest Carbon Research Initiative
Link: CTFS - Carbon Dynamics
Address: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
ATT: Helene C. Muller-Landau
9100 PANAMA CITY PL
Washington DC 20521-9100
Plant community ecology
Ecological and evolutionary theory
Anthropogenic influences on forests
Carbon budgets of forest ecosystems
My research is broadly concerned with the patterns, causes and consequences of plant diversity. The patterns of interest include the diversity of ways in which plant species make a living, the diversity of plant species that can coexist within the same area, and the diversity of plant communities around the globe. In terms of causes I examine proximate correlates such as climatic factors and functional traits as well as the ultimate causes deriving from selective forces, physiological constraints and underlying tradeoffs. The consequences of most interest to me at this time are those concerning carbon pools and fluxes – specifically, how the plant species composition of a forest affects the quantity of carbon stored in various pools (e.g., living trees, dead and decomposing trees, and the soil), the residence times in these pools, the fluxes in and out of them, and their sensitivity to climate variation. I use a combination of empirical and theoretical approaches to investigate these questions.
Major ongoing research areas and projects:
(A) Carbon budgets and global change
(1)-Quantifying carbon pools and fluxes and their spatial and temporal variation at CTFS sites around the globe.
(2)-Investigating the environmental and climatic correlates of spatial and temporal variation in forest carbon budgets across CTFS sites, and its relationship to plant functional composition.
(3)-Examining the short-term impacts of anthropogenic influences, including defaunation and deforestation on tropical plant populations and communities, and developing models to project the longer-term impacts.
(B) Seed dispersal, colonization ability, and species coexistence
(1)- Characterizing seed production and seed dispersal distances of tropical tree species from data on seed arrival within mapped stands and genetic matches to mother trees, and examining variation among species and among years.
(2)- Applying mechanistic models of seed dispersal by wind to investigate the individual, population and community-level consequences of variation in dispersal strategies.
(3)- Developing and parameterizing models of colonization-related tradeoffs among tropical plant species to investigate the role of these tradeoffs in the maintenance of species diversity.
(C) Interactions between plants and their natural enemies
(1)- Developing and parameterizing models of plant interactions with natural enemies to investigate how the spatial scales of movement of plants and their natural enemies affect associated contributions to the maintenance of plant diversity.
(2)- Quantifying density-dependent effects generally attributed to natural enemies in tropical tree communities, and examining their variation among species and their contribution to stabilizing species coexistence.
(3)- Experimentally removing natural enemies of plants (specifically insect herbivores, foliar fungal pathogens, below-ground oomycete pathogens, and vertebrates) to better understand their effects on individual species’s reproductive success and on plant community composition and diversity.
Education and Degrees
B.A., Mathematics and Statistics, Swarthmore College, 1995
M.A., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, 1997
PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, 2001
Muller-Landau, H. C. 2010. The tolerance-fecundity trade off and the maintenance of diversity in seed size. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:4242-4247.
Wright, S. J., H. C. Muller-Landau, and J. Schipper. 2009. The future of tropical species on a warmer planet. Conservation Biology 23(6):1418-1426.
Muller-Landau, H. C., S. J. Wright, O. Calderon, R. Condit, and S. P. Hubbell. 2008. Interspecific variation in primary seed dispersal in a tropical forest. Journal of Ecology 96:653-667.
Jones, F. A. and H. C. Muller-Landau. 2008. Combining inverse modeling, seed trap data, and genetic identification of parent trees to better estimate seed dispersal. Journal of Ecology 96:642-652.
Muller-Landau, H. C. 2008. Colonization-related trade offs in tropical forests and their role in the maintenance of plant species diversity. Pages 182-195 in Tropical Forest Community Ecology. W. P. Carson and S. A. Schnitzer, editors. Blackwell Scientific.
Chave, J., R. Condit, H. C. Muller-Landau, S. C. Thomas, P. S. Ashton, S. Bunyavejchewin, L. L. Co, H. S. Dattaraja, S. J. Davies, S. Esufali, C. E. N. Ewango, K. J. Feeley, R. B. Foster, N. Gunatilleke, S. Gunatilleke, P. Hall, T. B. Hart, C. Hernández, S. P. Hubbell, A. Itoh, S. Kiratiprayoon, J. V. LaFrankie, S. Loo de Lao, J.-R. Makana, M. N. S. Noor, A. R. Kassim, C. Samper, R. Sukumar, H. S. Suresh, S. Tan, J. Thompson, M. D. C. Tongco, R. Valencia, M. Vallejo, G. Villa, T. Yamakura, J. K. Zimmerman, and E. C. Losos. 2008. Assessing Evidence for a Pervasive Alteration in Tropical Tree Communities. PLoS Biology 6:e45.
Muller-Landau, H. C. and F. R. Adler. 2007. How seed dispersal affects interactions with specialized natural enemies and their contribution to diversity maintenance. Pages 407-246 in Seed Dispersal: Theory and its Application in a Changing World. A. J. Dennis, E. W. Schupp, R. J. Green, and D. W. Westcott, editors. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.
Muller-Landau, H. C. 2007. Predicting the long-term effects of hunting on plant species composition and diversity in tropical forests. Biotropica 39 (3):372-384.
Muller-Landau, H. C., R. S. Condit, K. E. Harms, C. O. Marks, S. C. Thomas, S. Bunyavejchewin, G. Chuyong, L. Co, S. Davies, R. Foster, S. Gunatilleke, N. Gunatilleke, T. Hart, S. P. Hubbell, A. Itoh, A. R. Kassim, D. Kenfack, J. V. LaFrankie, D. Lagunzad, H. S. Lee, E. Losos, J.-R. Makana, T. Ohkubo, C. Samper, R. Sukumar, I.-F. Sun, N. Supardi M. N., S. Tan, D. Thomas, J. Thompson, R. Valencia, M. I. Vallejo, G. Villa Muñoz, T. Yamakura, J. K. Zimmerman, H. S. Dattaraja, S. Esufali, P. Hall, F. He, C. Hernandez, S. Kiratiprayoon, H. S. Suresh, C. Wills, and P. Ashton. 2006. Comparing tropical forest tree size distributions with the predictions of metabolic ecology and equilibrium models. Ecology Letters 9:589-602.
Muller-Landau, H. C., R. S. Condit, J. Chave, S. C. Thomas, S. A. Bohlman, S. Bunyavejchewin, S. Davies, R. Foster, S. Gunatilleke, N. Gunatilleke, K. E. Harms, T. Hart, S. P. Hubbell, A. Itoh, A. R. Kassim, J. V. LaFrankie, H. S. Lee, E. Losos, J.-R. Makana, T. Ohkubo, R. Sukumar, I.-F. Sun, N. Supardi M. N., S. Tan, J. Thompson, R. Valencia, G. Villa Muñoz, C. Wills, T. Yamakura, G. Chuyong, H. S. Dattaraja, S. Esufali, P. Hall, C. Hernandez, D. Kenfack, S. Kiratiprayoon, H. S. Suresh, D. Thomas, M. I. Vallejo, and P. Ashton. 2006. Testing metabolic ecology theory for allometric scaling of tree size, growth, and mortality in tropical forests. Ecology Letters 9:575-588.
Muller-Landau, H. C., and Hardesty, B. D. 2005. Seed dispersal of woody plants in tropical forests: concepts, examples, and future directions. Pages 267-309 in Biotic Interactions in the Tropics. D. Burslem, M. Pinard, and S. Hartley, editors. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.