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Annual workshop at the pioneer forest plot: CTFS - ForestGEO partners in Panama

CTFS - ForestGEO wrapped up its fifth, annual Dimensions of Biodiversity data-analysis workshop in Gamboa, Panama—home of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Thanks to all 57 participants from 20 countries around the network,  CTFS - ForestGEO had another productive year in forest research!

Workshop participants in Gamboa, Panama

Workshop priorities followed suit from previous years: to bring a global network to a local place to foster research and scientific collaborations among the CTFS – ForestGEO members. Every workshop is an opportunity to explore the latest research ideas with colleagues and meet new network researchers in person.

The workshop is an ongoing collaboration between CTFS – ForestGEO and the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The National Science Foundation has provided financial support for the workshops since the summer of 2011.

At the workshop, participants hunkered down on forest plot analyses focused on biomass and carbon storage, gradients of diversity, time-series analyses of forest dynamics, and much more. Breaks from data analyses and computer screens ensued throughout the day as participants heard scientific presentations and provided feedback on forest research happening around the global network.  With 57 forest scientists in one room, there was no lack of expertise! Local Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists also joined the discussions and presented talks on the history of Panama and the immense amount of research occurring in tropical, Panamanian ecosystems. 

Gathering on Day 1!
Tony Coates revealing the history of Panama (photo courtesy C. Chang-Yang)

Early inspiration for questions about forest dynamics came from a field trip to the CTFS – ForestGEO pioneer plot, Barro Colorado Island (BCI). An 8 AM boat ride through the Panama Canal brought the participants to BCI, where they all climbed to the first of the now 63 forest dynamics plots in the CTFS – ForestGEO network.  Everyone had a chance to get a glimpse  of the 302 tree species in the plot. Back at the workshop hotel site,  the BCI plant taxonomy guru and leader of the eighth BCI forest census, Rolando Pérez, walked everyone through the history and species of the local area on a guided natural-history tour of Panama’s diverse plant and animal life. Gamboa, Panama certainly provided an appropriate backdrop for a forest-studies workshop.

Peter Umunay (works with Ituri, Dem. Rep. of Congo forest plot) at BCI
Learning about the BCI plot species (photo courtesy S. Mattson)

The workshop ended with a full day of scientific presentations. All participants shared their hot-off-the-press research findings that they discovered within the two-week workshop and received feedback and ideas about how to keep their research projects moving forward.

A final rendezvous at the butterfly garden celebrated the success of the fifth Dimensions of Biodiversity workshop. A big thanks to everyone who participated, and CTFS - ForestGEO looks forward to hearing about your ongoing research projects!

Goodbye's at the Rainforest Resort's Butterfly House
in Gamboa, Panama (photo courtesy C. Chang-Yang)