Forest Dynamics; Diversity, Mammals, Arthropods

A bruchid beetle emerges from a Palm seed
Termites at work
A parasitic fig wasp
A peanut-head bug

What have we learned?
The network provides answers to scientific questions about forests that were impossible to address at isolated sites.

We have learned not only that forests maintain a staggering diversity of species, but also 90% of the species account for less than 1% of the individual trees, indicating that the vast proportion of the diversity is due to these rare species.

We have also learned that tropical forests are surprisingly dynamic. Species composition and relative abundance change in response to even short-term environmental changes such as severe El Niño events, such as droughts.

The worldwide network has led to discoveries of the importance of history and biogeography in the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity and has hinted at the importance of local, underground processes as an important driver of diversification.

Ecosystem services
Plot botanists have identified commercially valuable native tree species, whereas hydrologists have examined the influence of reforestation and forest restoration on groundwater flow, stream discharge and mitigation of flooding and soil erosion. Ecologists study the influence of topography and soil chemistry on forest species composition and distribution.

The role of animals and insects
Mammals associated with seed dispersal and arthropods like herbivores and pollinators are increasingly a focus of studies both within and across plots in the network. The network’s Arthropod Initiative of the CTFS/SIGEO network aims at long-term monitoring of key arthropod assemblages and studying insect-plant interactions over the CTFS network.

Tropical arthropods represent a significant fraction of biodiversity and play major roles in ecosystem function. The initiative integrates with ongoing monitoring of plant dynamics within the network, causes minimum possible impact to the plots, and focuses on a priority set of assemblages chosen for their ecological relevance, taxonomic tractability, and ease of sampling. The main groups to be monitored and their forest function is listed below:

  • Termites (Decomposers)
  • Selected moths, butterflies, caterpillars (Herbivores, Pollinators)
  • tephritid fruit flies (Fruit feeders')
  • Litter-dwelling ants (Various roles)
  • Bees (Pollinators, pollen eaters)
  • Selected parasitoids
  • Seed predators

The History of SIGEO Forests and The Environment Looking Forward
Forest biologists from 21 countries and 75 partner institutions share the same passion to understand forest dynamics. One of the key roles played by the SIGEO network is to define, quantify and analyze the benefits to human society that... Federal and private funding has supported the development of this unique research platform as it has grown from a single...