We will examine the scaling of abiotic and biotic drivers of forest diversity and vegetation structure, from short-distance interactions between seedlings to large-scale distribution patterns of mature trees driven by forest gap dynamics and environmental filters. We will quantify the importance of the key drivers, including habitat filtering related to niche differentiation, competition for resources, and top-down control of the vegetation by pathogens and herbivores, using two contrasting study systems: tropical and temperate zone forests. We will use a range of research approaches, from manipulative community-level experiments excluding plant natural enemies from seedling assemblages to the analysis of large-scale vegetation patterns against sophisticated null models, applied to extensive world-wide data sets from multiple ForestGEO forest dynamics plots. The study will bring better understanding of steep latitudinal gradients in forest diversity and structure, and particularly of the conundrum of extreme tropical diversity of trees and ecological factors that maintain it.
Fibich Pavel Mgr. Ph.D.