ForestGEO: Understanding forest diversity and dynamics through a global observatory network

Stuart J. Davies, Iveren Abiem, Kamariah Abu Salim, Salomón Aguilar, David Allen, Alfonso Alonso, Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, Ana Andrade, Gabriel Arellano, Peter S. Ashton, Patrick J. Baker, Matthew E. Baker, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Yves Basset, Pulchérie Bissiengou, Stephanie Bohlman, Norman A. Bourg, Warren Y. Brockelman, Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, David F.R.P. BurslemMin Cao, Dairon Cárdenas, Li Wan Chang, Chia Hao Chang-Yang, Kuo Jung Chao, Wei Chun Chao, Hazel Chapman, Yu Yun Chen, Ryan A. Chisholm, Chengjin Chu, George Chuyong, Keith Clay, Liza S. Comita, Richard Condit, Susan Cordell, Handanakere S. Dattaraja, Alexandre Adalardo de Oliveira, Jan den Ouden, Matteo Detto, Christopher Dick, Xiaojun Du, Álvaro Duque, Sisira Ediriweera, Erle C. Ellis, Nestor Laurier Engone Obiang, Shameema Esufali, Corneille E.N. Ewango, Edwino S. Fernando, Jonah Filip, Gunter A. Fischer, Robin Foster, Thomas Giambelluca, Christian Giardina, Gregory S. Gilbert, Erika Gonzalez-Akre, I. A.U.N. Gunatilleke, C. V.S. Gunatilleke, Zhanqing Hao, Billy C.H. Hau, Fangliang He, Hongwei Ni, Robert W. Howe, Stephen P. Hubbell, Andreas Huth, Faith Inman-Narahari, Akira Itoh, David Janík, Patrick A. Jansen, Mingxi Jiang, Daniel J. Johnson, F. Andrew Jones, Mamoru Kanzaki, David Kenfack, Somboon Kiratiprayoon, Kamil Král, Lauren Krizel, Suzanne Lao, Andrew J. Larson, Yide Li, Xiankun Li, Creighton M. Litton, Yu Liu, Shirong Liu, Shawn K.Y. Lum, Matthew S. Luskin, James A. Lutz, Hong Truong Luu, Keping Ma, Jean Remy Makana, Yadvinder Malhi, Adam Martin, Caly McCarthy, Sean M. McMahon, William J. McShea, Hervé Memiaghe, Xiangcheng Mi, David Mitre, Mohizah Mohamad, Logan Monks, Helene C. Muller-Landau, Paul M. Musili, Jonathan A. Myers, Anuttara Nathalang, Kang Min Ngo, Natalia Norden, Vojtech Novotny, Michael J. O'Brien, David Orwig, Rebecca Ostertag, Konstantinos Papathanassiou, Geoffrey G. Parker, Rolando Pérez, Ivette Perfecto, Richard P. Phillips, Nantachai Pongpattananurak, Hans Pretzsch, Haibo Ren, Glen Reynolds, Lillian J. Rodriguez, Sabrina E. Russo, Lawren Sack, Weiguo Sang, Jessica Shue, Anudeep Singh, Guo Zhang M. Song, Raman Sukumar, I. Fang Sun, Hebbalalu S. Suresh, Nathan G. Swenson, Sylvester Tan, Sean C. Thomas, Duncan Thomas, Jill Thompson, Benjamin L. Turner, Amanda Uowolo, María Uriarte, Renato Valencia, John Vandermeer, Alberto Vicentini, Marco Visser, Tomas Vrska, Xugao Wang, Xihua Wang, George D. Weiblen, Timothy J.S. Whitfeld, Amy Wolf, S. Joseph Wright, Han Xu, Tze Leong Yao, Sandra L. Yap, Wanhui Ye, Mingjian Yu, Minhua Zhang, Daoguang Zhu, Li Zhu, Jess K. Zimmerman, Daniel Zuleta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


ForestGEO is a network of scientists and long-term forest dynamics plots (FDPs) spanning the Earth's major forest types. ForestGEO's mission is to advance understanding of the diversity and dynamics of forests and to strengthen global capacity for forest science research. ForestGEO is unique among forest plot networks in its large-scale plot dimensions, censusing of all stems ≥1 cm in diameter, inclusion of tropical, temperate and boreal forests, and investigation of additional biotic (e.g., arthropods) and abiotic (e.g., soils) drivers, which together provide a holistic view of forest functioning. The 71 FDPs in 27 countries include approximately 7.33 million living trees and about 12,000 species, representing 20% of the world's known tree diversity. With >1300 published papers, ForestGEO researchers have made significant contributions in two fundamental areas: species coexistence and diversity, and ecosystem functioning. Specifically, defining the major biotic and abiotic controls on the distribution and coexistence of species and functional types and on variation in species' demography has led to improved understanding of how the multiple dimensions of forest diversity are structured across space and time and how this diversity relates to the processes controlling the role of forests in the Earth system. Nevertheless, knowledge gaps remain that impede our ability to predict how forest diversity and function will respond to climate change and other stressors. Meeting these global research challenges requires major advances in standardizing taxonomy of tropical species, resolving the main drivers of forest dynamics, and integrating plot-based ground and remote sensing observations to scale up estimates of forest diversity and function, coupled with improved predictive models. However, they cannot be met without greater financial commitment to sustain the long-term research of ForestGEO and other forest plot networks, greatly expanded scientific capacity across the world's forested nations, and increased collaboration and integration among research networks and disciplines addressing forest science.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108907
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Capacity strengthening
  • Demography
  • Forest plots
  • Network science
  • Species diversity
  • Tree growth and mortality
  • Tropical forests


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