Project properties

Title Hydraulic functional composition along succession in a Neotropical wet forest
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) FEM group: R (Rodrigo) Muñoz Aviles, L (Lourens) Poorter
Other organisation: Miguel Martínez-Ramos (IIES – UNAM, Mexico)
Examiner(s) Prof.Dr. F.J.J.M (Frans) Bongers
Contact info /
Begin date 2020/01/01
End date
Description Also available as internship.
Droughts are thought to increase in frequency and intensity in the future. Yet, it is not well understood how tropical forests will respond to such environmental change. A particular emphasis has to be done on forests in the process of recovery from disturbance (secondary succession) because they constitute over 60 % of the forest cover in the tropics and their recovery, functioning and the ecosystem services they provide might be compromised. Plant functional traits, especially those related to water economics, have arose as a promising tool to predict forest dynamics related to water availability. Therefore, we need to study the evolution of such functional traits along succession to predict, in a species basis, how secondary forests could cope with severe droughts now and onwards.
You will work measuring hydraulic functional traits in leaves and stems in a tropical wet forest of southern Mexico (Chajul, Chiapas). Chajul is a unique setting for the study of forest relations with environmental variables given its long-lasting dataset of secondary and old-growth forest dynamics. Chajul is also known for its impressive biodiversity, beautiful landscapes and its particular socio-cultural context.
During your project you will earn fieldwork experience, learn or practice Spanish, have the opportunity to closely interact with locals and other Mexican students, as well as to discover Chiapas and Mexico in your free time. Working in a remote area of a developing country will improve your organizational skills and you will learn how to deal with problems in resource-limited environments. Also, it will provide you with a close perspective of the daily way of living of people from the region.

[Biodiversity and functional diversity/ Population and forest dynamics/ Forest restoration and succession / Ecophysiology / Modelling /America's/Tropical zone]
Used skills Experience doing fieldwork and statistical modeling in R are good assets
Requirements Standard for MSc thesis:
FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I;

Standard for BSc:
minimal 120 credits