seeing the forest for the trees
Fall 2013 Amy Z found a couple of old lab friends, Mark Westoby and Vania Torrez, at the TRY meeting in Leipzig, Germany this September.

The lab has been going in many directions through the summer with presentations at annual  meetings both in the USA and Europe and expanding on field and lab projects in Washington, DC, St. Louis, MO, Edgewater, MD, and Richmond, NSW. Let the rotting begin (or continue)!


Amy M. spent the summer starting a project on fungal phenology at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD, with the help of Rachel Milner, an undergraduate from the University of Rochester. We found a lot of fruiting bodies, now the big push will be to identify them all! Amy also presented preliminary results on deadwood distributions across habitats on the Tyson forest plot in a poster at ESA in Minneapolis. 

Elvis successfully defended his MSc thesis entitled “Floristics and above-ground biomass (AGB) in Peatlands in Peruvian Lowland Amazonia, Loreto – Peru” this summer. Well done Elvis! He has returned to Peru and is helping a colleague with more peatland field work. 




Darcy presented a talk at the ESA meeting this year titled “Extracellular enzyme activities link wood traits with decomposition rates.” It was a great opportunity to talk with similarly decomposition-minded people and think about new directions for the Tyson project. Darcy is now back in the lab working with Jordan Fingerhut, a high school student who is doing an internship with us as part of her senior year at the School Without Walls. Jordan will be testing hypotheses about pH changes in wood as decay proceeds. Welcome, Jordan!

Brad had a busy summer. It began with a return trip to UWS Hawkesbury to help set up an  Australian rot-plot experiment.  Then he presented collaborative research on wood traits and snag fall rates in an Organized Oral Session at ESA in Minneapolis, MN. Straight from ESA, Brad headed to NESCent on a short term visitor fellowship analyzing ecological consequences of alternative mycorrhizal states with Hafiz Maherali. Next month, Brad will be returning to St. Louis  to work on rot plots and to Arizona to develop more Bayesian Hierarchical models with Kiona Ogle. Look forward to papers on vessel length, wood mechanical strength, snag falls and tree mortality in the near future!

Mariya hung out in DC this summer analyzing preliminary microbial community data from the Tyson rot plots. Check out the lab’s emerging fungal ITS amplicon pipeline. We’re working on improving it and would love to hear your suggestions.  

Oyomoare’s summer was spent working with Ivan Jimenez at the Missouri Botanical Gardens on running null models in R to test the hypothesis that turnover decreases through time in Kibale Forest, Uganda. She shared some of the results from this work at this year’s ESA meeting in a talk titled “Species composition and wood density variation: Responses to logging history in Kibale National Park, Uganda”. Also, Oyomoare gave a talk late July at the Missouri Botanical  Gardens as part of a seminar series to undergraduate students getting research experience  (REU), and another talk at the start of the fall semester as part of the seminar series ‘Biolunch’ at the Department of Biology, University of Missouri Saint Louis. There’s still one more talk to go though, as Oyomoare will be presenting a non-technical presentation on Nov 6 to the Webster Groves Nature Study Society, a group that provided some funding for her field work in summer of 2011 in Kibale National Park, Uganda. This fall semester should be busy for Oyomoare, working  with Ivan Jimenez in Saint Louis on more analysis using R and writing up results. 

Amy Z has been participating in the Macroevolution of Ecosystem Services from Trees working group organized by Jeannine Cavender-Bares and Steve Polasky at Sesync. After the first meeting in June, she continued onto Australia to set up the new rot plot with Brad and Jeff Powell and work on papers with Will Cornwell. She even managed to sneak in a visit to Rob Kooyman for tours of the rainforests along the NSW border. After a short DC drop in, she went to the Mycological Society of America meeting in Austin and International Ecology meeting in London before spending time with Will Cornwell and Hans Cornelissen at Vrije Universiteitin Amsterdam. Her European travels finished up in Germany with the TRY meeting  at iDiv in Leipzig and a short junket in Berlin. This  fall she is teaching Analyses in R at GWU and looks forward to the Missouri Botanical Garden  Systematics Symposium that she is co-organizing with Peter Hoch and Peter Stevens entitled “Phylogeny meets Ecology: patterns of diversity, community assembly, and niche evolution”. She has recently co-authored papers with Eliot Miller and Bob Ricklefs, as well as Rob Kooyman and Australian colleagues. 

The lab has had and is expecting several visitors to give seminars, including Rob Lanfear, Colin Chapman, Mike Mann, and Stuart Davies. We had a great time with Rob in town and look forward to our other upcoming guests!

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