The following are summaries of major long-term collaborative research projects at Las Cruces, a number of which have international representation of PI and Co-PIs. Research at LCBS has contributed to more than 750 publications and over 30 doctoral dissertations.
Countryside Biogeography. PI: G. C. Daily, P. R. Ehrlich (Stanford), Co-PIs: G. Caballos, J. Pacheco, and G. Suzán (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), B. Brosi, L. Frishkoff, D. Goehring, D. Karp, G. Luck, M. Mayfield, L. Pejchar, J. Ranganathan, T. Ricketts, and C. H. Sekercioglu (Stanford), A. Sánchez-Azofeifa (University of Alberta), J. Zook (freelance). Funding: Peter and Helen Bing, Teresa Heinz, Koret, McDonnell, Moore, NIH, NSF, Pew Charitable Trust, Sherwood, Stanford University, Winslow. Research aims to forecast biodiversity change and the implications thereof for ecosystem functioning and services, and find ways of harmonizing agricultural production and conservation. Integrating empirical and theoretical approaches, the project evaluates a variety of strategically selected taxa – including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths, bees, and plants – and their ecological functions in both the New World and in much older but otherwise comparable landscapes of India. Initiated – late 1980s.
Deforestation and Soil Carbon Loss. PI: S. Porder (Brown); Co-PIs: T. Huth (Brown). Funding: NSF. Quantifying Carbon loss associated with deforestation in degraded pastures and in primary forest. Study uses Las Alturas and Las Cruces to evaluate change and loss of soil Carbon in fragmented and non-fragmented forests. Initiated – 2009.
Forest Dynamics Plots Project. PIs: C. J. Peterson (UGA), R. A. Zahawi (OTS-LC). Major funding pending. Project established a 2.25 ha permanent forest dynamics plot in the Las Cruces primary forest. Project has identified, measured, and mapped in 3-D space all trees >5 cm dbh. First survey was completed in 2011 and will be recensused in 5 yr intervals. Future plans to increase frequency of surveys and add additional plots in Las Alturas and neighbouring fragments are dependent on securing funding. Project objective is to address demographic patterns in fragmented and non-fragmented forests, as well as rate of gap formation, species diversity, and the overall ‘health’ of each forest. Initiated – 2007.
Las Cruces Avian Monitoring Program. PI: S. C. Latta (National Aviary); Co-PIs: A. Olivieri (San Vito Bird Club), J. Richardson (San Vito Bird Club), and J. Girard (San Vito Bird Club). Funding: Grace Richardson Foundation, National Aviary, PRBO Conservation Science, and members of San Vito Bird Club and Connecticut Audubon Society. Long-term avian monitoring program in 2° forest fragments. Point count observations and constant-effort mist-netting to document long-term population trends among resident and migratory birds, determine demographics and survival in altered habitats in the region, and provide opportunities for field training of Costa Ricans in ornithological techniques. Initiated – 2004.
Pollinator Movements in a Fragmented Landscape. PIs: M. Betts (Oregon State), Co-PIs: A. Hadley (Oregon State), U. Kormann (Goettingen). Funding: Major funding NSF. Project examining movement patterns of hummingbirds and pollination success in the Las Cruces landscape, and in a range of forest fragments of different sizes using radiotelemetry to track individuals. This is the first time hummingbirds have been successfully tracked. Project recently received major funding and will be expanded considerably in 2012. Initiated – 2008.
Population Ecology of Tropical Countryside Birds & Bats. PIs: G. C. Daily, P. R. Ehrlich, Liz Hadley (Stanford); Co-PIs: F. Hannah, C. Mendenhall (Stanford). Funding: Peter and Helen Bing, Koret, National Geographic, Winslow. Project combines a diversity of methods (mark-recapture, radio tracking, GIS analysis, nest monitoring, isotopic and molecular analyses; vegetation surveys and microclimatic measurements) to study ecology and long-term population dynamics of native bird species in forest vs. human-modified habitats at 18 sites in the surrounding landscape. Primary objectives are to understand their use of tropical countryside habitats, obtain measures of long-term population changes in different habitats, and advise locally-compatible habitat restoration policies that increase the viability of regional populations. The project expanded in 2009 to include similar work with bats at the same sites used for birds. Initiated – 1998.
Proyecto Islas. PIs: K. D. Holl (UC-Santa Cruz), R. A. Zahawi (OTS-LC), C. A. Lindell (Michigan State), Becky Ostertag (UH), Susan Cordell (USFS); Co-PIs: R. J. Cole, L. Reid (UCSC), E. Holste, E. B. Morrison (MSU). Funding: NSF, Earthwatch, USFWS. Project investigates 14 replicate 1-ha restoration sites spread across >100 km2. The study tests the effect of forest cover in the surrounding landscape and three restoration treatments (plantation – area planted with four tree species; islands – planting in patches; and control – no planting) on seed dispersal, seedling establishment, and bird and bat community composition and behavior. Initiated – 2004.
Soil Carbon Responses to Warming. PIs: J. Mohan (UGA), J. Barrett (Virginia Tech), C. Giardina (USFS), D. Markewitz (UGA), A. Thompson (UGA), N. Wurzburger (UGA), S. Cordell (USFS), F. Bowles, L. Aldrich-Wolfe (Concordia). Funding: DOE and NSF (pending). Large-scale forest soil warming studies to elucidate how temperature change affects net ecosystem Carbon balance. Specifically, soil C stabilization, breakdown of SOM, and changes in levels of soil respiration in response to increased temperature. Pilot fieldwork starting in 2010, greenhouse work in 2011; major funding sought as of 2012.