Importance of Natural Resources

UWM Spotlight on Excellence: Rainforest Research


Here everyday’s an adventure that’s how it really
is. Here the tropical forest every time I
come to the field I think okay let see what I’m going to see today. From mainland we have to come to the
island by boat… and from here we as well have to use a
smaller engine boats that take us to the different remote sites. Sometimes it can be a
little scary when you’re passing a boat that’s maybe three or four stories
high and you’re in this tiny aluminum boat making tiny little
waves. The research there were doing there’s not another place in the world
that this research has been done. Lianas are a key component of tropical forests and have been a key component for from millions of years. We’re interested in
how the competition between lianas and trees might affect the structure the forest and
the amount of carbon that is within the forest. Tropical Forests store and accumulate 30-40 percent of all the trestle carbon planet and so tropical forests are really incredibly sensitive ecosystems and their changing and we’re
getting an increase in these vines which is leading to a decrease in tree survival, the number of trees, the size of the trees
and that’s going to have a huge impact on carbon dynamics in tropical forests. If the carbon is not being pulled into
the trees it actually sitting in the atmosphere in the air and
it’s causing problems for global warming global climate change Lianas won’t take over the rain forest but they’ll become more abundant which will make trees
become less abundant. What I’m trying to understand is at
which point do lianas become harmful for the
tree. We weren’t initially studying these questions for anything related to
climate change. That’s the power of I’ll pursuing
fundamental questions in in science is that you understand how the process work and then
you can adapt to changes that are occurring in the
environment. My students, both undergrad and grads, get to interact with some of the top
tropical biologist in the world and it’s something that we can offer
students through the Smithsonian but we can’t offer
it without the Smithsonian so we’re we’re really fortunate to be able to
work with them so closely. It’s amazing that Stefan that he’s
encouraging all of his students and all of these undergraduates to come here and I think for UWM it’s an amazing
opportunity that their students are able to come here. He’s an astounding professor that does
world-class work unlike no one else but yet he’s so
humble about it it’s kinda awe inspiring because usually you think of people that get to such an astute level
in their careers that they won’t have time for and
undergraduate but he makes the time. I think it’s a
pretty amazing that UWM is able to send students down to Panama every year
and we’re able to basically brag about the research that
we’re doing in that how how cool UWM is. Every individual in the world should
come to the rainforest and actually try to see and try to understand maybe
just a tiny glimpse of it because it’s gonna open people’s minds an it’s
going to certainly change the way they see themselves in the world.


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