Studying Succession in the Amazonian Rain Forest

1Studying a master of tropical forestry in Tharandt, Germany, could seem paradoxical. However, after three semesters of theory, students go to tropical rainforests around the world for the field part of their master thesis. For my side, I choose Amazonia for the data collection. I had the opportunity to join the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP) of the Amazonian Research Institute (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil. This large project studies fragmented, continuous and secondary forest. My own research deals with successional pathways occurring after two types of land-use histories (pasture and clear-cut).

The diameter growth, the Crown Illumination Index and the crown diameters of tree species present on both plot types are collected in order to identify differences in tree growth. The research will compare diameter growth on both successional pathways and aims to highlight the impact of human activities on forest regrowth. All over the world, forested areas are threatened and land-use is changing. Therefore a better understand of the effects that human has on forest regrowth allows to think better the management and to work more efficiently for their ecological development.

2The discovery of tropical rainforest is really the best part of this research. Every plot is full of wonders and to camp in the forest allows to enjoy nature in many aspects. But a tropical forest is also challenging, by the number of plants and insects, the dense structure of the understory and the climatic conditions. There, the diversity in flora and fauna reveals the struggle for life of each plant and animal. To be part of an experienced team for the data collection is very instructive and to be part of a large research project allows me to discuss and share ideas with other researchers. They are motivated by the same ecological passion, enthusiastic, and in general very open to discussion. The research part of this master completes the theory learnt in class and provides the field experience necessary for a total learning.


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