LUQ-LTER February 2015
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Proposal update: We (Jess, Whendee, Bob) are proceeding rapidly to develop a first draft of the proposal by Feb. 15 or earlier.  Please let Jess know if you are interested in reading and commenting.  This will be shared to the group via Dropbox. 

With the passing of the By-laws, we have a new Management Committee consisting of Jess, Nick, Whendee, Grizelle, and Mike.  We are working with NSF to make these changes official, placing Jess as Lead PI before the renewal grant is submitted sometime in early May.  The remainder of the MC will serve as co-PIs for LTER 5b.  The MC had it's first monthly meeting on January 16.  Please don't hesitate to contact one of us if you want us to discuss a concern you might have.

The MC would like to give a super special thanks to Cathy and Alonso for their many years of service on the former Executive Committee and as co-PIs.  We expect much of the same great service in their new roles serving on the Science and Education Advisory Committee (SEAC).
REU Summer Program

We are now accepting applications for the Summer 2015 internship in Tropical Ecology and Evolution at El Verde Field Station, Puerto Rico. The internship will run from June 1 - August 7.
Students receive a stipend for the ten weeks duration of the program.  Round-trip plane ticket from home institution to Puerto Rico will be reimbursed, up to a maximum of $600.  The program will cover housing at El Verde Field Station. The program is funded by The National Science Foundation and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus.

The REU program is limited to undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor's degree at a college or university during summer 2015 that are US citizen or permanent residents. Applications are due by February 28th.
Application materials and further information can be found here.
El Verde is now participating in the PhenoCam project (A.D. Richardson, Harvard University)! For more details and photos, check out

Our new building is taking shape.
For updates on construction and more photos, follow the El Verde Facebook page.
Canopy Trimming Experiment

On November 13, 2014, we began the second canopy trim on the CTE plots. During the first trim in 2004, there was one control plot and 3 treatment plots in each block (trim + debris, trim - debris, and no trim + debris). The design was simplified this year so that each block only had one control plot and one treatment plot (trim + debris). Trimming was completed on all three blocks on December 18th. We were able to quickly get the trimmed litter back onto the plots which will be critical in capturing the effect of green leaves that was missed during the first trim.

In total, 28,138 kg of wet material was trimmed from the canopy. The dry mass was 10,788 kg. In contrast, during CTE1, the dry mass trimmed from these 3 plots was 16,195 kg. In CTE1, the majority of the trimmed material was wood. In CTE2, the greatest proportion of material fell into the leaves/twigs category.

If you would like more information on the CTE project, email
The Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment (TRACE) recently broke ground on construction of the world's first field warming experiment in a tropical forested ecosystem. Six plots (three control and three warmed) have been constructed near the USDA Forest Service Sabana Field Research Station, within the Luquillo Experimental Forest, with the goal of understanding the effects of temperature on tropical forest carbon cycling, soil nutrients and plant physiology of the understory. See for more information on this innovative project!
Congratulations to Bob Muscarella! Bob has accepted a postdoc position in Denmark and has recently moved there with his wife and son. His paper on tree phylogeny of Puerto Rico was recently published at PLoS1 (See "Recent publications" for link). From the abstract:
"With the DNA barcode phylogeny presented here (based on an island-wide species pool), we show that a more fully resolved phylogeny increases power to detect nonrandom patterns of community composition in several Puerto Rican tree communities. Especially if combined with additional information on species functional traits and geographic distributions, this phylogeny will (i) facilitate stronger inferences about the role of historical processes in governing the assembly and composition of Puerto Rican forests, (ii) provide insight into Caribbean biogeography, and (iii) aid in incorporating evolutionary history into conservation planning."
Recent publications

Cavaleri, M. A., S.C. Reed, W.K. Smith, and T.E. Wood. Urgent need for warming experiments in tropical forests. In press, Global Change Biology.
    Full text of this article can be found here

Figueroa-Nieves, D., W.H. McDowell, J.D. Potter, G. Martínez and J.R. Ortiz-Zayas. 2014. Effects of sewage effluents on water quality in tropical streams. Journal of Environmental Quality 43: 2053-2063.
    Full text of this article can be found here or e-mail for a copy of
    the PDF.

Hall, S. J., J. Treffkorn, and W. L. Silver. Breaking the enzymatic latch: Impacts of reducing conditions on hydrolytic enzyme activity in tropical forest soils. In press, Ecology.
    Full text of this article can be found here

McNicol, G. and W. L. Silver. 2014. Separate effects of flooding and anaerobiosis on soil greenhouse gas emissions and redox sensitive biogeochemistry. JGR-Biogeosciences 119: 557-566.
     Full text of this article can be found here

Muscarella, R., M. Uriarte, D.L. Erikson, N.G. Swenson, J.K. Zimmerman, and W.J. Kress. 2014. A Well-Resolved Phylogeny of the Trees of Puerto Rico Based on DNA Barcode Sequence Data. PLoSOne 9:11.
    Full text of this article can be found here

Yang, W. H., W. C. McDowell, P. D. Brooks, and W. L. Silver. 2014. New high precision approach for measuring 15N-N2 gas fluxes from terrestrial ecosystems. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 69: 234-241.

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