The Bachelot Lab is interested in the high tree diversity in the tropical forest. How can so many species coexist in the same forest? To address this question, we combine field observations, computer approached, and theoretical modeling.
In 1970 and 1971, Daniel Janzen and Joseph Connell (JC) separately proposed that natural enemies of seeds and seedlings are responsible for the maintenance of the high diversity of trees in the tropics. The majority of tropical tree species associate with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These mutualists could alter the effects of natural enemies on seedling dynamics. In the Bachelot Lab, we investigate how natural enemies and fungi influence seedling dynamics and tropical tree species coexistence.
Tropical rainforests are predicted to become dryer and hotter than current conditions. Yet, little is known about how climate influences the interactions among plants, natural enemies, and fungi. We are collaborating with the first tropical warming experiment that takes place in Puerto Rico (http://www.forestwarming.org) to evaluate how plant natural enemy communities and herbivory respond to warming.