Tuesday, August 7, 2012: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
B113, Oregon Convention Center
Patrick H. Martin, Colorado State University
Heidi Asbjornsen, University of New Hampshire
Tropical montane cloud forests (TMCFs) cover a small part of the earth, yet play a critical role in biodiversity, hydrology, and human livelihoods. TMCFs are among the world’s least known ecosystems, research across TMCFs lacks integration, and they are likely to be exceptionally vulnerable to global change. The overall goal of this special session is to begin building a community of international researchers who study TMCFs across large spatial and environmental gradients. This special session will begin with state-of-science discussions and planning to increase the ecological knowledge of TMCFs. We will focus on building: (1) in-depth, mechanistic and synthetic study of TMCF structure-function relationships, (2) analysis of the variation among TMCFs arising across broad biogeographic and environmental gradients, and (3) integrated study of the ways in which spatial and environmental gradients associated with elevation contribute to the distinctiveness of TMCFs. Currently, understanding is constrained by: (1) limited cross-site and methodological compatibility, (2) limited discourse across disciplinary boundaries, and (3) limited synthesis of current research into an integrated conceptual framework linked to predictive ecological and ecosystem models. At a meeting in 2010, a team identified these themes and concluded that such efforts require multi-site and interdisciplinary approaches best fostered with network of collaborators. These issues cannot be addressed without a team of collaborators as the key variation in these factors—climate, physiography, and ecological isolation—vary spatially (e.g. islands vs. mainlands, equatorial vs. subtropics, coastal vs. inland).