Restoration ecology | Tropical forests | Ecophysiology | Biogeochemistry | UAVs
I am a graduate student in the Plant Biological Sciences program at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where I am advised by Dr. Jennifer Powers. My PhD thesis focuses primarily on the restoration of tropical dry forest (TDF) on degraded Vertisols, soils that shrink and swell with the seasonal rains in this ecosystem. The bulk of my thesis work seeks to determine the effectiveness of planting native tree species, in combination with soil amendments, to restore ecosystem function in TDFs growing on Vertisols widespread in this region.
In addition to this project I am also investigating the impacts of reduced precipitation on the effectiveness of restoration plantings, seeking to determine how soil edaphic factors influence the distribution of native TDF tree species, and have been developing methods for the use of UAVs for ecosystem and wildlife monitoring.
Restoration of TDF on degraded vertisols
In collaboration with Estación Experimental Forestal Horizontes
I am restoring 6-hectares of TDF on degraded Vertisols by planting TDF trees native to this region. Research thus far has enabled us to determine which tree species are suitable for restoration plantings on degraded Vertisols, and what soil amendments increase the predicted survival and growth of planted seedlings. With these results in hand we used a functional trait-driven approach to design species mixes for 6-hectares of restoration plantings in 2015.
Impacts of decreased precipitation on restoration plantings
I have developed and implemented a throughfall exclusion experiment to examine the impacts of a reduced growing season length on the growth of establishment of TDF tree seedlings. Tree species that are commonly used in restoration plantings in this region were used in order to have the ability to make recommendations to practitioners restoring forests in this region based on the results of this study.
Development of methods for the use of UAVs for ecosystem and wildlife monitoring
Minnesota and Costa Rica
I have been collaborating with an interdisciplinary group of researchers in Minnesota to develop techniques to monitor the behavior of free-roaming wildlife with UAVs. Additionally, I am currently using UAVs to collect aerial imagery of successional forests in Costa Rica to track forest regeneration and dynamics.