Florian Hofhansl

Tropical Ecosystem Research


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Amazon forest response to CO2 fertilization dependent on plant phosphorus acquisition

New study published in Nature Geoscience reports first modelling results from the exciting CO2-fertilisation experiment conducted in the middle of the Amazon

Current climate models suggest that trees will continue to remove manmade greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, making it possible to stay within the targets set by the Paris Agreement. A study led by an international team of scientists however indicates that this uptake capacity could be strongly limited by soil phosphorus availability. The authors note that how the ecosystem reacts – whether trees will be capable of getting additional phosphorus from the soil through enzymatic processes or by forming more roots and symbiotic interactions that can provide scarce nutrients – must be further investigated. One thing is however certain, tropical rainforests are not an infinite CO2 sink and the Amazon forest reservoir must be preserved. This comes in line with response to rising international criticism over a surge in forest clearing since the beginning of the year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and officials in his administration have recently stepped up attacks on scientists at the country’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) for continuing to report transparently on deforestation in the Amazon.

Check out the press release and media attention for the article published in Nature Geoscience, August 2019.


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International Trait School – Porquerolles (France), 19-24 May 2019

In May 2019, I took the great opportunity to participate in the 8th edition of the graduate thematic course, sponsored by CNRS, France and the Centre for Forest Research, Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science. It was one of the best ecological experiences of my scientific life so far and I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in plant ecology (see website for applications and some impressions of this edition below).

Also check out some of the islands incredible trail running routes and annual trail running events (https://www.hyeres-tourisme.com/agenda-fetes-manifestations/trail-de-porquerolles/).



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Permakultur – Dein Garten. Deine Revolution.

Die Permakultur orientiert sich an den Regeln der Natur. Und damit ist sie nicht allein. Wer entdeckt wie genial die Natur wirklich ist muss sich förmlich etwas von ihr abschauen. Doch was können wir noch alles von der Natur lernen.

Permakultur ist ein großes miteinander: Beziehungen, Netzwerke, Systeme, Kooperationen, “das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest” (laut Douglas Adams Autor des gleichnamigen Fantasy-Romans). Die Autorin erklärt diese Zusammenhänge in Ihrem Buch und zeigt wie diese Erkenntnisse in der Permakultur umsetzbar sind. Mit einem Gast-beitrag von Florian Hofhansl.

Link zum Buch: https://www.loewenzahn.at/buecher/2650/permakultur-dein-garten-deine-revolution/


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Beta diversity and oligarchic dominance in the tropical forests of Southern Costa Rica

Our article entitled “Beta diversity and oligarchic dominance in the tropical forests of Southern Costa Rica” was recently published in the journal Biotropica doi.org/10.1111/btp.12638.

Forest community assembly is shaped by environmental factors and stochastic processes, but so far the contribution of oligarchic species to the variation of community composition (i.e., beta diversity) remains poorly known. We established 1‐ha permanent inventory plots in humid lowland tropical forests of southwestern Costa Rica to identify oligarch species characterizing changes in community composition among forest types. Based on this network of forest plots we investigate how community composition responds to differences in topography, successional stage, and distance among plots for different groups of species (all, oligarch, common and rare/very rare species). From a total of 485 species of trees, lianas and palms recorded in this study only 27 species (i.e., 6%) were nominated as oligarch species. Oligarch species accounted for 37% of all recorded individuals and were present in at least half of the plots. Plant community composition significantly differed among forest types, thus contributing to beta diversity at the landscape scale. Oligarch species was the component best explained by geographical and topographic variables, allowing a confident characterization of the beta diversity among tropical lowland forest stands.

Please see this link to the online version of the article.


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Terrestrial light detection and ranging for estimating tropical vegetation biomass

Our article entitled “Performance of Laser-Based Electronic Devices for Structural Analysis of Amazonian Terra-Firme Forests” was recently published in the section “Remote Sensing Techniques for Precision Forestry” a special issue of the journal Remote Sensing (Remote Sens. 2019, 11(5), 510; doi: 10.3390/rs11050510)

Novel in situ remote sensing techniques may provide nondestructive alternative approaches to derive biomass estimates for tropical forest ecosystems. We report error metrics for measurements of tree diameter and tree height and show that estimates of aboveground biomass are in good agreement (<10% measurement uncertainty) with traditional measurements. We quantify total and systematic errors among measurements obtained from laser-based electronic devices and conclude that terrestrial light detection and ranging (LiDAR) can complement conventional measurement techniques, thus improving biomass estimates for tropical forest ecosystems.

Terrestrial laser scan of tropical vegetation structure

Please also check out this amazing animation as well as the article entitled “Performance of laser-based electronic devices for structural analysis of Amazonian terra-firme forests” published in a Special Issue “Remote Sensing Techniques for Precision Forestry” in the journal Remote Sensing.


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Biologische Globalisierung bedroht entlegene Inseln

Anzahl an Neobiota auf Inseln steigt mit der Entfernung zum Festland

Je weiter eine Insel vom Festland entfernt ist, desto weniger heimische Tier- und Pflanzenarten, aber desto mehr vom Menschen eingeschleppte Arten – sogenannte Neobiota – beherbergt sie. Zu diesem überraschenden Ergebnis kommt ein internationales Forschungsteam vom Department für Botanik und Biodiversitätsforschung der Universität Wien in der aktuellen Ausgabe der renommierten Fachzeitschrift “PNAS”.

Blick auf die malerischen Rainbow Falls nahe der Stadt Hilo auf Big Island/Hawaii. Alle Pflanzen in unmittelbarer Umgebung sind nicht-heimisch (© Holger Kreft).

Weiterlesen auf dem Blogeintrag zum press release der Universität Wien