Model evaluation in tropical rainforests: Spatial correlations and density fluctuations



Pablo Villegas
University of Rome, Italy

26. November 2019, 17.00
WW8, Raum 2.018, Dr.-Mack-Str. 77, Fürth


A substantial effort has been made in the last 40 years to recover ecological experiments under field conditions in tropical forests, providing unique and extensive databases. For example, the Center for Tropical Forest Science in Barro Colorado Island (BCI) has monitored – every 5 years – a network of 50ha forest inventory plot from the 1980s. BCI censuses comprise large-scale detailed studies with a few hundreds of thousands of trees and hundreds of species. An overarching concept in physics is that of correlation, and its crucial importance have been demonstrated in biological problems such as flocks of birds or swarms of mosquitoes. By employing the synthesis of publicly available and collected data, we studied static correlations in tropical forests, either neglecting species differences (i.e. at the community level) or considering simple species. Another key concept is that of the density vegetation (i.e. number of trees per unit area) and the study of their fluctuations in respect of what is expected at equilibrium (recorded to be anomalous, e.g. in bacterial populations). A list of experimental observations are required to discriminate between models and eventually develop new ones, drawing conclusions about the synergies and interactions ruling the ecosystem.