Biodiversity enrichment in oil palm plantations: plant succession, micro-climate and integration

I am working as a post-doc in the biodiversity enrichment experiment (EFForTS-BEE) in Sumatra, Indonesia. I coordinate and integrate inter-disciplinary research activities in the experiment. My aim is to address the overall effects of tree plantings in oil palm plantations on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and resilience, and to analyze socioeconomic and ecological trade-offs. In addition, I focus my research on three specific topics:
Seed dispersal by bats and birds: Seed dispersal is the main limiting factor for ecological restoration by tree plantings in degraded tropical landscapes. Long-distance seed dispersal events by bats and birds are expected to play an important role in the tropics. This is the topic of a join project in collaboration with Kevin Darras (B09). Our research questions are: (1) What is the role of bats and birds for long-distance seed dispersal in oil palm plantation enriched with tree plantings? (2) How are long-distance dispersal events controlled by the landscape matrix and the local tree island characteristics? In our methodology, we combine seed tracking and trapping methods, observations of bats using night vision devices and camera traps, as well as bird point counts.
Plant successional trajectories and tree interactions: Because seed dispersal alone is not sufficient to ensure successful ecological restoration, I also analyze plant successional trajectories. More specifically, I control seeding establishments and survey canopy understory. Furthermore, I analyze tree interactions and their roles in explaining ecosystem structure (vegetation structural complexity) and function (primary productivity). Among others, I use a terrestrial laser scanner to create 3D models of the vegetation.
Micro-climate heterogeneity across spatial scales: Microclimate affect biodiversity and ecosystem functions and might be an important control of the success of biodiversity enrichment and restoration. In addition to absolute temperature and humidity values, spatial heterogeneity are particularly important variables. In collaboration with sub-projects A02 and A03, I raise the following research questions: (1) How is micro-climate heterogeneity and temporal variability affected by tree plantings in an oil palm landscape? (2) How does this relationship vary across spatial scales? (3) How does micro-climate affect, and how is it affected by, biodiversity and ecosystem functions in the tree-enriched oil palm plantation? To address these questions, we combine 200 temperature and humidity data loggers, a climate tower and drones equipped with a thermal camera.

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