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7th Annual ForestGEO Analytical Workshop in Puerto Rico

Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) wrapped up its seventh annual data analysis workshop in July. Thank you to all 64 participants from 19 countries around the network; ForestGEO had another productive year in forest research!

The workshop took place near the ForestGEO Luquillo site from 16-31 July in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Every workshop is an opportunity to bring global participants together to foster research and scientific collaborations. All participants worked diligently and were pleased with the amount of science and training accomplished during the two-week workshop. Participants explored their latest research ideas with colleagues and had the opportunity to meet new network researchers in person.

From left to right: Yao Tze Leong, Daniel Zuleta, Sabrina Russo, Lillian Rodriguez, Stuart Davies,
Musalmah Nasardin, ​​Mohizah Mohamad, Pulcherie Bissiengou, and Matthew Luskin. Photo by David Kenfack.


The annual analytical workshops are an ongoing collaboration between ForestGEO and the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network (CforBio) with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The US National Science Foundation has provided financial support for the workshops since 2011 with the grant entitled, “Integrating functional, phylogenetic and genetic components of diversity for an improved understanding of forest structure, dynamics, and change.” The grant is geared towards funding workshops for graduate students, postdocs, and senior scientists to gather and collaborate on their research and exchange data and ideas.

At the workshop, participants worked meticulously on forest site analyses focused on biomass and carbon storage, spatial dynamics, demography, seed-seedling and phenology dynamics, and much more. The approach centered on small “break out” groups focused on hands-on mentoring by senior scientists associated with the Smithsonian Institution and ForestGEO. Participants were guided through the analyses and writing stages of their projects in order to produce manuscripts intended for submission to peer-reviewed scientific journals. For example, a recent publication in Science stemmed from the work at the 2016 workshop in Hainan, China.

Participants and mentors working in the meeting rooms. Photos by Lauren Krizel and Haley Overstreet.

Breaks from data analyses and computer screens ensued throughout the day as participants heard scientific presentations from their peers and provided feedback on forest research happenings around the global network. Participants also took part in lively group meals, trips to the beach and Old Town San Juan, and dynamic evening discussions.

Field Trip to Old Town San Juan. Photos by David Kenfack.

During the second week of the workshop, participants went on a day-long field trip to the 16ha Luquillo field site located in El Yunque National Forest. Jess Zimmerman, the PI of Luquillo, and Aaron Hogan, a PhD student who has research experience in the site, gave in-depth tours of the site and surrounding area. The participants began with an ascent to the Mr. Britton tower for views of El Yunque, followed by a visit to the nearby cloud forest on the El Yunque Trail through palm forest to the Palo Colorado Picnic Area. After lunch, participants departed for El Verde Field Station to walk to the 16ha Luquillo forest site and other research areas.

Jess Zimmerman, PI of Luquillo Forest Dynamics Site, discusses the Mr. Britton Spur
at El Yunque National Forest. Photos by Mauro Lepore.


The workshop ended with a full day of scientific presentations where each participant gave a 5-minute lightning talk. All participants shared research findings from the workshop and received feedback and ideas about how to keep their research projects moving forward.

Top left: Mohizah Mohamad; top right: Nestor Engone;
bottom left: Daniel Zuleta; bottom right: Pavel Fibich. Photos by David Kenfack.

A final rendezvous at the pavilion at the hotel celebrated the success of the seventh Dimensions of Biodiversity workshop. A big thanks to everyone who participated, and ForestGEO looks forward to hearing about your ongoing research projects and collaborations in the future!