Project properties

Title Tropical wood density unraveled: effects of species, climate and tree size
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 27-33
Supervisor(s) Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema; Dr. U. (Ute) Sass-Klaassen;
Examiner(s) Prof.Dr. F.J.J.M (Frans) Bongers
Contact info
Begin date 2018/01/01
End date
Description Tropical forests store vast amounts of carbon and thus play an crucial role in the global carbon cycle. Changes in the carbon sequestration of tropical forests will thus have strong consequences for future climate: tropical forests may mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon, or enhance it by emitting it. Carbon in tropical forests is mostly stored in the form of wood, and understanding variations in wood density within and among trees is thus key to be able to correctly estimate the amount of carbon stored within a forest. Additionally, wood density also contains a physiological or climatological signal (i.e., vessel size is related to drought stress) and provides information on the physical qualities of wood (i.e., strength properties). Yet, wood density patters have been poorly studied in tropical tree species and little is known about the drivers of its variation, such as climate, tree species, age, size, etc.
In this project you will assess the drivers of variation in wood density within and among species. Additionally, you will analyse trends in wood density related to tree age / size and try to disentangle them from long-term trends caused by changes in tree physiology due to climate change.
You will work with a pan-tropical set of wood samples, collected in Bolivia, Cameroon and Thailand. Tree-density will be derived using three-dimensional X-ray tomography (i.e., the Nanowood Multi-resolution X-ray CT scanner) at the Ghent University in Belgium (dr Joris van Acker; dr Jan van den Bulcke). This internship involves no fieldwork (i.e., sample collection), but it does include quite extensive labwork.

Tree ring analyses and wood anatomy/America's/ Africa /Asia/Tropical zone
Used skills
Requirements FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I