Forest ecology

Population biology and community structure of tropical forest trees, management of tropical forests, effects of disturbances on tropical forests.Long-Term Ecological Research Program


Dr. Nicholas Brokaw





 Atmospheric chemistry, aerosols and climate

Our group focuses on the study of the chemical, physical and optical properties of atmospheric aerosols and the impact of these aerosols on climate. Special interest is on organic aerosols from marine, urban, biogenic and biomass burning sources. Sampling stations are in the Lighthouse in Fajardo (marine site), University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (urban site) and the Caribbean National Forest (forest site).  Our studies seek to gain a better understanding of the properties of aerosols, especially of the organic fraction, in order to determine their sources, and impact on clouds and climate.



Dra. Olga L. Mayol-Bracero






Plant ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions



Studies in our research group have two main focuses: 1) the mechanisms of evolution of floral traits and, in particular, whether traits are currently under the influence of natural selection, 2) the effect of invasive species on plant community structure, with emphasis on Mona Island.  Other research interests include the relationship between environmental gradients and distribution of orchid species.


Dra. Elvia J. Meléndez-Ackerman





Tropical limnology and water  resources  management.



My research focuses on the study of the chemical, physical, and biological properties of inland waters in the tropics, i.e, creeks, lakes, streams, rivers, and estuaries.  Of special interest is the study of stream metabolism, carbon biogeochemistry, dissolved oxygen dynamics, hydrology, and water quality; all with an applied perspective to water resources management.  Sampling sites are rivers draining the Caribbean National Forest, and in urban areas such as the Río Piedras and Río Canóvanas in Puerto Rico.


Dr. Jorge R. Ortíz-Zayas





Ecology of aquatic systems with emphasis on rivers



Ecology of aquatic insects and the role they play in ecosystems and their productivity.  Taxonomy and systematic of aquatic insects, with emphasis on immature stages or larvae.


Dr. Alonso Ramírez





Landscape ecology, GIS.



Students in the Spatial Analysis lab conduct studies using satellite image analysis, geographic information systems, air-photo interpretation, and spatial statistics.  Applications include habitat characterization for endangered species, investigation of spatial ecology theory, and land-use change.






Forest dynamics



The main interests of our group are on how historical land use affects plant communities, restoration of tropical forests, and plant phenology and reproductive effort in plants.


Dr. Jess Zimmerman






Soil ecology and biogeochemistry



We focus on soil processes as affected by soil fauna and the associated natural and human disturbances. Specific questions are how natural and human disturbances alter the soil faunal community and how soil biota regulate biogeochemical processes in terrestrial ecosystems.


Dr. Xiaoming Zou






Plant population and community dynamics in tropical forests



Current research focus, using the 16 ha Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot, concerns the effects of hurricane damage and past human disturbance on tropical forest plant communities.


Dr. Jill Thompson