Tropical rainforests—adapted to a thermally stable climate—may be particularly vulnerable to climate change but this hypothesis remains poorly evaluated due to data scarcity. In a unique elevation gradient experiment, we examine the sensitivity of tropical trees to warming and reduced water supply. Large multi-species plantations have been established at sites with large variation in climate, with water manipulation treatments applied at each site. We also study above and below ground carbon stock and fluxes in early and late succession tropical montane forest stands in permanent monitoring plots within Nuyngwe national park Rwanda.
The research is conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Rwanda and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and aims to explore: (1) Tree acclimation capacity to heat and drought; (2) Mechanisms and processes controlling responses of tree growth and survival; (3) Re- and afforestation potential using native species; (4) Carbon stocks and fluxes of tropical montane forests at different successional stages. The project has strong connections with Rwandan stakeholders and policy makers.