I am a researcher in tropical ecology at Bayreuth University in Germany. As an ecologist, I became involved in international interdisciplinary work which always revolved around research and promotion of forest biodiversity in tropical ecosystems. Working in Latin America, Indonesia, Kenya and now in Germany has provided me valuable insights into extensive forest ecology research, biodiversity assessment and state-of-the-art of ground data acquisition. It has also allowed me to acquire various perspectives from forest-dependent people about the biodiversity that surrounds them and the importance of local participation in forest conservation. Working in international organizations in an intercultural setting such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Agroforestry Centre not only involved me with land use practices and climate change related issues but also raised my awareness of the need for more comprehensive studies on ecosystem processes to further understand potential future impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services and understand the degree of resilience of tropical forests.
With this motivation in mind and in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, I decided to develop my doctoral research in Panama aiming at a thorough understanding of the mechanisms driving species distribution patterns and consequently diversity in tropical forests and their potential responses to a changing climate.Forests of the Isthmus of Panama are highly diverse and highly variable geologically and climatically providing an ideal setting for studying environmental effects on plant diversity and distributions. Per se, my study focuses on the influence of environmental factors: for example soil nutrients affecting tropical species distributions across gradients of different soil nutrients. With my study I hope to contribute to the understanding on forest dynamics and forest vulnerability to human-induced changes and help to prevent forest degradation and biodiversity loss. I would like to combine my research with social perspectives by communicating science to broad audiences and principally to local people and main forest users and to promote a sensible use and management of these forests which harbor the highest diversity on earth. I aspire to apply my expertise and address tropical biodiversity issues on current national and international policy processes which ultimately decide the fate of these forests.