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School of Geography

Climate effects on tropical tree growth: light vs. drought limitations

Supervisor: Dr Roel Brienen (r.brienen(at)

Tropical forests are an important component of the global water and carbon cycles. Despite their importance very little is known on tropical tree responses to variation in climate. Specifically, it has been suggested that tropical tree productivity may be limited by water at drier sites and light at wetter sites, but few observational data exist. In this project you will use tree rings and isotopes to unravel the effects of drought and light limitations on tropical tree growth and photosynthesis. You will make use of existing tree ring samples from various different sites in the Amazon basin and Central America, and analyse ring width and carbon isotopes to understand growth responses to light and drought. The work involves an exciting combination of dendrochronology (tree ring analysis) and advanced state of the art isotope analysis.