Patrick A. Jansen
SIGEO/CTFS Scientist: Vertebrate Community Dynamics
Address: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Attn.: Dr. P.A. Jansen (CTFS)
PO Box 0843-03092
Balboa, Ancon, Panamá
Republic of Panama
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Centre for Ecosystem Studies
P.O. Box 47
6700 AA Wageningen
T: +31 317 486 197
Vertebrate community ecology; seed dispersal and seed predation; hunting impacts; disease ecology; species coexistence
I am coordinating the Vertebrate Program of CTFS-SIGEO, a global network of forest research plots for studying forest function and diversity. The network includes 40 sites in 21 countries across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe. CTFS monitors the growth and survival of approximately 4.5 million trees and 8,500 species. The Vertebrate Program aims to stimulate and facilitate research on vertebrates and their interactions with trees in these plots. This begins with simply determining what vertebrate species are present at each site, how abundant they are, and how their abundances change over time. Panama is our test ground for more advanced vertebrate-related research.
For CTFS, I coordinate the implementation of TEAM – the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring network – at a series of CTFS-SIGEO sites. TEAM aims to monitor long-term trends in biodiversity in tropical forests. TEAM currently monitors climate, tree growth and dynamics, and terrestrial vertebrates. For TEAM, we monitor terrestrial vertebrate communities through annual large-scale camera trapping. Most sites include a gradient of hunting, fragmentation, and/or elevation.
My personal research focuses on interactions of vertebrates with plants, with each other, and with parasites and diseases. My vertebrate-plant interactions research aims to understand how vertebrates affect the species composition, diversity and functioning of forest ecosystems, for example through species-specific seed dispersal, seed predation and herbivory. What specific roles vertebrates play in tropical forests? How do vertebrate species they interact with different plant species? How do they contribute to the maintenance of high plant species diversity? And, ultimately, how does degradation of vertebrate communities – due to bushmeat hunting and forest fragmentation – affect the species composition and diversity of tropical forests? Our efforts in Panama are concentrated on the Central American agouti and the two large-seeded palm species that this scatter-hoarding rodent disperses and depredates.
The vertebrate interactions research considers interactions between vertebrates, particularly competition for food and space, and predator-prey interactions. Here, we seek to understand how vertebrates partition resources, how predation risk and food availability affect animal behavior, when and why animals are active, amongst others. This work yields basic knowledge that we apply in the plant-vertebrate interaction research. Here, too, agoutis are the most important object of research.
The parasites and disease ecology research is the newest line of research. The aim is to understand how the community composition of vertebrates affect that of parasites such as ticks and fleas, and ultimately agents of infectious disease, including diseases that are harmful to people, such as the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever cause by Rickettsia bacteria. We seek to determine how host-specific parasites are to vertebrates, how host-specific disease agents are to their parasite hosts, and how suitable different vertebrates are as reservoirs for diseases. The key hypothesis that we are testing is that vertebrate diversity reduces the prevalence of diseases through a dilution effect.
Finally, I am interested in canopy dynamics. Our research uses ground-based methods as well as remote sensing to understand where and why trees fall.
Education and Degrees
M.Sc., Wageningen Agricultural University, 1993.
Ph.D., Wageningen University, 2003.
Jansen, P.A., H.C. Muller-Landau & S.J. Wright (2010). Bushmeat hunting, tropical biodiversity and carbon. Science 327: 30
Gálvez, D., B. Kranstauber, R.W. Kays & P.A. Jansen (2009). Scatter hoarding by the Central American agouti: a test of optimal cache spacing theory. Animal Behaviour 78: 1327-1333.
Jansen, P.A., P.J. Van der Meer & F. Bongers (2008). Spatial contagiousness of canopy disturbance in tropical rainforest: an individual-tree based test. Ecology 89: 3490-3503.
Jansen, P.A., S.A. Bohlman, C.X. Garzon-Lopez, H. Olff , H.C. Muller-Landau & S.J. Wright (2008). Large-scale spatial variation in palm fruit abundance across a tropical moist forest estimated from high-resolution aerial photographs. Ecography 31: 33-42.
Jansen, P.A., F. Bongers & P.J. Van der Meer (2008). Is farther seed dispersal better? Spatial patterns of offspring mortality in three rainforest tree species with different dispersal abilities. Ecography 31: 43-52.
Forget, P.-M. & P.A. Jansen (2007). Hunting increases dispersal limitation in the tree Carapa procera, a non-timber forest product. Conservation Biology 21: 106-113
Jansen, P.A., F. Bongers & L. Hemerik, L. (2004). Seed mass and mast seeding enhance dispersal by a Neotropical scatter-hoarding rodent. Ecological Monographs 74: 569-589