New Subject Editor: Flavia Costa9 August 2018
Flávia Costa (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Brasil)
I have been living and studying the Amazon forests for 22 years. My research interest is in understanding the organization, maintenance and dynamics of plant communities of the Amazon forests. This being a broad subject, my research has many focuses, from plant species distribution and community assembly at local and biogegraphical scales to the dynamics of forests under climate change. During many years I and my students have conducted standardized plant inventories across the Amazon, which provided the material to understand the local filters of species composition and diversity and later the understanding of biogeographical patterns of plant distribution. Having established this scenario, we moved to understand the functional basis for these patterns, how they are changing along time and which factors are driving these changes, from local anthropogenic disturbances to large scale climate changes such as strong droughts, flooding and storms. Modifications of forests by humans are not confined to the present time, and we have also been studying the effects of pre-Columbian peoples on the Amazonian forest structure and composition. To help expedite both taxonomy of inventory plots and functional analysis, we have been developing spectrometric techniques to help identify species and estimate traits. These multiple study lines require collaboration with ecosystem ecologists, soil experts, chemists, anthropologists, archeologists, physiologists, zoologists and so on, which is helping to educate a group of new professionals with a broad basis in forest ecology, who I hope see leading research on the Amazon.