Dr. Alex Fajardo

    Alex Fajardo Yáñez

    forest ecologist

    Ph.D. Forest Sciences, The University of Montana, USA
    September, 2005

    contact information



       I was born in Chillán, central Chile, in 1971 and completed my undergraduate degree in forestry (ingeniería forestal) in 1996 at the Universidad de Concepción (Chillán-Concepción).  My undergraduate thesis was on the evaluation of lateral roots as a key trait for seedling performance in Pinus radiata, under the supervision of René Escobar.  Afterwards, I entered graduate school at the Wageningen University, The Netherlands, where I obtained an MSc in forest ecology in 2000.  My MSc thesis was on the dynamics of regeneration in canopy gaps of Nothofagus pumilio forests and it was under the supervision of Dr. Reitze de Graaf.  In 2001 I begun my PhD in forest sciences at The University of Montana, USA, under the superyvision of Dr. John Goodburn.  I completed my thesis, which was about the link between spatial pattern and ecological processes, in 2005.  Since January 2007 I live and work in Coyhaique (Chilean Patagonia).  I am broadly interested in dynamic processes occurring in tree–dominated communities, including tree demography, population dynamics, and natural resource management and conservation.  I am very interested in applying modern quantitative approaches to investigate and understand the mechanisms driving and structuring forest ecosystems.  Particularly, I have been using spatial statistical analyses with the main goal of improving ecological inference and develop better links between spatial patterns and ecological processes.

    academic background

    current research projects

  • 2016-2019, Fondecyt Regular Project 1160329 "Tree height as a crucial trait that explains species distributions". Principal investigator. Funded by Conicyt.

Tree height has always amazed and stimulated the curiosity not only of naturalists and ecologists, but of people in general.  Recent ecological and evolutionary studies have shown interesting viewpoints on plant height, including the apparent existence of a bimodal distribution of the maximum height of woody species, the importance of plant height on species diversification, or how height is the main driver of conduit diameter variation. Given that most of previous studies have dealt with maximum height, here I would like to lean the attention to a most unheeding aspect of tree height, which is that being short in stature becomes advantageous for plants.  My general aim is to elaborate a much more fair ground about the trade-offs involving the many aspects of tree height.  As the paradigm within which the field of ecology primarily operates is the struggle for existence, much attention has been placed on the apparent competitive advantages that tall stature confers to trees when competing for pre-empting light resources. My foremost hypothesis is that short-statured tree species can attain wider ecological niche breadths than taller ones, i.e. there is a negative relationship between niche breadth and tree height.  It has been found that the tallest individuals of the tallest tree species on earth are confined to an outstanding narrow thermal distribution near coastal areas.  Two short-statured tree species, Embothrium coccineum (Proteaceae) and Nothofagus antarctica (Nothofagaceae), prosper across an abrupt precipitation gradient (4,000–500 mm of annual precipitation) in Patagonia, from sea level to treeline elevation.
  • 2016-2019, Fondecyt Regular Project 1160330 "Carbon allocation in winter deciduous versus evergreen trees: is it coordinated with nutrient allocation and long-distance transport of assimilates?". Co-investigator. Funded by Conicyt.
  • 2016-2019, Fondo de Investigación de Bosque Nativo "Bosques degradados del tipo forestal Siempreverde en la Región de Aysén: resiliencia y multifuncionalidad ecosistémica".  Principal investigator. Funded by Conaf.       

     completed research projects

  • 2013-2016, Ecos-Conicyt  C12B01 "The role of stress gradients on genetic structure and functional traits in forest populations of Patagonia". Funded by Conicyt (Chile) and Ecos (France);
  • 2012-2014, Fondecyt Regular Project 1120171 "The link between plant functional traits and species coexistence in the Chilean forest". Funded by Conicyt;
  • 2009-2012, Climate change consequences in Patagonian forests: How do evergreen and deciduous Nothofagus face the increasing attacks of Ormiscodes amphimone (Saturniidae)? Funded by DID S-2010-67, Universidad Austral de Chile;
  • 2009-2011, Proyecto Fortalecimiento SS-2008-10 "Cambio del uso de la tierra debido a los incendios catastróficos que afectaron a la Región de Aysén: variabilidad genética y funcionamiento ecosistémico".  Funded by Conicyt;
  • 2009, International Connection Project (Proyecto de vinculación internacional), The treeline connection. Funded by Conicyt;
  • 2007-2008, Treeline formation in Nothofagus spp. in southern Chile: a search for a mechanistic explanation in a changing world. Funded by Fondecyt-Conicyt (3070050);
  • 2006-2008, The occurrence of novel establishment strategies in second-growth forests of Nothofagus in Patagonia: group selection, facilitation-competition interplay, and stand dynamics model. Partially funded by The School of Forestry and Conservation (The University of Montana) and a seed-project from Universidad de Concepción (205.141.017-1sp).


     peer-reviewed publications


[50] Fajardo, A., and Siefert, A. 2018Infraspecific trait variation and the leaf economics spectrum across resource gradients and levels of organizationEcology, in press (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[49] Fajardo, A. 2018. Insights into intraspecific wood density variation and its relationship with growth, height and elevation in a treeline speciesPlant Biology 20(3): 456-464 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[48] Fajardo, A., and Gundale, M.J. 2018Canopy cover type, and not fine-scale resource availability, explains native and exotic species richness in a landscape affected by anthropogenic fires and posterior land-use changeBiological Invasions 20(2): 385-398 (Funded by: Fortalecimiento SS-2008-10 & Fondecyt 1120171)


[47] Piper, F.I., Fajardo, A., and Hoch, G. 2017. Single-provenance mature conifers show higher non-structural carbohydrate storage and reduced growth in a drier locationTree Physiology 37(8): 1001-1010.

[46] Camarero, J.J., and Fajardo, A. 2017. Poor acclimation to current drier climate of the long-lived tree species Fitzroya cupressoides in the temperate rainforest of southern Chile. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 239(1): 141-150

[45] Fajardo, A., and Piper, F.I. 2017An assessment of carbon and nutrient limitations in the formation of the southern Andes treelineJournal of Ecology 105(2): 517-527 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[44] Mayor, J.R., Sanders, N.J., Classen, A.T., Bardgett, R.D., Clément, J.-C., Fajardo, A., Lavorel, S., Sundqvist, M.K., Bhan, M., Chisholm, C., Cieraad, E., Gedalof, G., Grigulis, K., Kudo, G., Oberski, D., and Wardle, D.A. 2017Elevation alters ecosystem properties across temperate treelines globallyNature 542(7639): 91-95 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)


[43] Fajardo, A., and Siefert, A. 2016. Temperate rain forest species partition fine-scale gradients in light availability based on their leaf mass per area (LMA). Annals of Botany 118(7): 1307-1315 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[42] Piper, F.I., and Fajardo, A. 2016Carbon dynamics of Acer pseudoplatanus seedlings under drought and complete darknessTree Physiology 36(11): 1400-1408

[41] McIntire, E.J.B., Piper, F.I., and Fajardo, A. 2016. Wind and light exposure, more than elevation-related temperature, limit treeline seedling abundance on three continents. Journal of Ecology, 104(5): 1379-1390

[40] Gundale, M.J., Almeida, J.P., Wallander, H., Wardle, D.A., Kardol, P., Nilsson, M.-C., Fajardo, A., Pauchard, A., Peltzer, D.A., Ruotsalainen, S., Mason, B., and Rosenstock, N. 2016. Differences in endophyte communities of introduced trees depend on the phylogenetic relatedness of the receiving forest. Journal of Ecology, 104(5): 1219-1232

[39] Bravo-Monasterio, P., Pauchard, A., and Fajardo, A. 2016. Pinus contorta invasion into treeless steppe reduces species richness and alters species traits of the local community. Biological Invasions, 18(7): 1883-1894 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[38] Fajardo, A. 2016. Are trait-scaling relationships invariant across contrasting elevations in the widely distributed treeline species Nothofagus pumilio? American Journal of Botany, 103(5): 821-829 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[37] Piper, F.I., Viñegla, B., Linares, J.C., Camarero, J.J., Cavieres, L.A., and Fajardo, A. 2016. Mediterranean and temperate treelines are controlled by different environmental drivers. Journal of Ecology 104(3): 691-702

[36] Fajardo, A. 2016. Wood density is a poor predictor of competitive ability among individuals of the same species. Forest Ecology and Management 372(1): 217-225 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[35] Fajardo, A., and Siefert, A. 2016. Phenological variation of leaf functional traits within species. Oecologia 180(4): 951-960 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[34] Renard, S., McIntire, E.J.B., and Fajardo, A.  2016. Winter conditions—not summer temperature—influence establishment of seedlings at white spruce alpine treeline in Eastern Quebec. Journal of Vegetation Science 27(1): 29-39

[33] Fajardo, A., Torres-Díaz, C., and Till-Bottraud, I. 2016. Disturbance and density-dependent processes (competition and facilitation) influence the fine-scale genetic structure of a tree species population. Annals of Botany 117(1): 67-77 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171 & Ecos-Conicyt C12B01)


[32] Siefert, A., Violle, C., Chalmandrier, L., Albert, C.H., Taudiere, A., Fajardo, A., Aarssen, L.W. et al. 2015. A global meta-analysis of the relative extent of intraspecific trait variation in plant communities. Ecology Letters 18(12): 1406-1419 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[31] Fajardo, A., and Gundale, M.J. 2015. Combined effects of anthropogenic fires and land-use change on soil properties and processes in Patagonia, Chile. Forest Ecology and Management 357(1): 60-67 (Funded by: Fortalecimiento SS-2008-10)

[30] Piper, F.I., Gundale, M.J., and Fajardo, A. 2015. Extreme defoliation reduces tree growth but not C and N storages in a winter deciduous species. Annals of Botany 115(7): 1093-1103 (Funded by: DID S-2010-67)

[29] Fajardo, A. and Piper, F.I. 2015. High foliar nutrient concentrations and resorption efficiency in Embothrium coccineum (Proteaceae) in southern ChileAmerican Journal of Botany 102(2): 208-216 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)


[28] Piper, F.I. and Fajardo, A. 2014. Foliar habit, tolerance to herbivory, and their link to carbon and nitrogen storageJournal of Ecology, 102(5): 1101-1111 (Funded by: DID S-2010-67)

[27] Fajardo, A. and Piper, F.I. 2014. An experimental approach to explain the Southern Andes elevational treeline. American Journal of Botany 101(5): 788-795 (Funded by: Fondecyt 3070050)

[26] McIntire, E.J.B. and Fajardo, A. 2014. Facilitation as a ubiquitous driver of biodiversity (Tansley Review)New Phytologist 201(2): 403-416


[25] Piper, F.I., Baeza, G., Zúñiga-Feest, A. and Fajardo, A. 2013. Soil nitrogen, and not phosphorus, promotes cluster root formation in a South American Proteaceae. American Journal of Botany 100(12): 2328-2338 (Funded by: DID S-2012-55). Media report about our article: http://phys.org/news/2014-01-exploring-roots-problem-south-american.html 

[24] Adler, P.B., Fajardo, A., Kleinhesselink, A.R., and Kraft, N.J.B. 2013. Trait-based tests of coexistence mechanisms. Ecology Letters 16(10): 1294-1306 (Funded by: Fondecyt 1120171)

[23] Fajardo, A., Piper, F.I., and Hoch, G. 2013. Similar variation in carbon storage between deciduous and evergreen treeline species across elevational gradients. Annals of Botany 112(3): 623-631

[22] Piper, F.I., Fajardo, A. and Cavieres, L.A. 2013. Simulated warming does not impair seedling survival and growth of Nothofagus pumilio in the Southern Andes. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 15(2): 97-105


[21] Till-Bottraud, I., Fajardo, A. and Rioux, D. 2012. Multi-stemmed trees of Nothofagus pumilio second-growth forests in Patagonia are formed by highly related individuals. Annals of Botany 110(4): 905-913

[20] Fajardo, A., Piper, F.I., Pfund, L., Korner, C. and Hoch, G. 2012. Variation of mobile carbon reserves in trees at the alpine treeline ecotone is under environmental control. New Phytologist 195(4): 794-802

[19] Bravo, P., Penailillo, P. and Fajardo, A. 2012. New antecedents on the distribution and ecology of Botrychium dusenii (H. Christ.) Alston (Ophioglossaceae) associated with anthropogenic environments in the Coyhaique province, Aysen Region, Chile. Gayana Botanica 69(1): 208-211

[18] Fajardo, A. and McIntire, E.J.B. 2012. Reversal of multi-century tree growth improvements and loss of synchrony at mountain treelines point to changes in key driversJournal of Ecology 100(3): 782-794


[17] Gundale, M.J., Fajardo, A., Lucas, R.W., Nilsson, M.-C. and Wardle, D.A. 2011. Resource heterogeneity does not explain the productivity-diversity relationship across a boreal island fertility gradientEcography 34(5): 887-896

[16] Piper, F.I. and Fajardo, A. 2011. No evidence of carbon limitation with tree age and height in Nothofagus pumilio under Mediterranean and temperate climate conditions. Annals of Botany 108(5): 907-917. Reviewed in Faculty of 1000 as a "must read" paper.

[15] McIntire, E.J.B. and Fajardo, A. 2011. Facilitation within species: a possible origin of group selected superorganisms. The American Naturalist 178(1): 88-97

[14] Fajardo, A. and McIntire, E.J.B. 2011. Under strong niche overlap conspecifics do not compete but help each other to survive: facilitation at the intraspecific levelJournal of Ecology 99(2): 642-650

[13] Fajardo, A., Piper, F.I. and Cavieres, L.A. 2011Distinguishing local from global climate influences in the variation of carbon status with altitude in a tree line speciesGlobal Ecology and Biogeography 20(2): 307-318

[12] Fajardo, A., and Piper, F.I. 2011. Intraspecific trait variation and covariation in a widespread tree species (Nothofagus pumilio) in southern ChileNew Phytologist 189(1): 259-271

2010 and before

[11] Fajardo, A., and McIntire, E.J.B. 2010. Merged trees in second-growth, fire origin forests in Patagonia, Chile: positive spatial association patterns and their ecological implications. American Journal of Botany 79(9): 1424-1430 

[10] Fajardo, A., and González, M.E. 2009.  Replacement patterns and species coexistence in an Andean AraucariaNothofagus forest.  Journal of Vegetation Science 20(6): 1176-1190

[9]  McIntire, E.J.B. and Fajardo, A. 2009.  Beyond description: the active and effective way to infer processes from spatial patterns.  Ecology 90(1): 46-56

[8] Fajardo, A., Quiroz, C., and Cavieres, L.A.  2008.  Distinguishing colonization modes from spatial structures in populations of the cushion plant Azorella madreporica in the high-Andes of central Chile.  Austral Ecology 33(6): 703-712

[7] Fajardo, A., Quiroz, C., and Cavieres, L.A. 2008.  Spatial patterns in cushion-dominated plant communities of the high-Andes of central Chile: how frequent are positive associations?  Journal of Vegetation Science 19(1): 87-96

[6] Fajardo, A., and McIntire, E.J.B. 2007.  Distinguishing microsite and competition processes in tree growth dynamics: an a priori.  The American Naturalist 169(5): 647-661

[5] Fajardo, A., Graham, J.M., Goodburn, J.M., and Fiedler, C.E. 2007.  Ten-year responses of ponderosa pine growth, vigor, and recruitment to restoration treatments in the Bitterroot Mountains, Montana, USA.  Forest Ecology and Management 243(1): 50-60

[4] Fajardo, A., Goodburn, J., and J. Graham. 2006.  Spatial patterns of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir saplings following selection harvests in western Montana, USA.  Forest Ecology and Management 223(1-3): 255-266

[3] Fajardo, A., and Alaback, P. 2005.  Effects of natural and human disturbances on the dynamics and spatial structure of Nothofagus glauca (Phil.) Krasser forests in South-central Chile.  Journal of Biogeography 32(10): 1811-1825

[2] Cavieres, L.A., and Fajardo, A. 2005.  Browsing by large herbivores on Nothofagus pumilio forest gaps in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.  Forest Ecology and Management 204(2-3): 237-248

[1] Fajardo, A., and de Graaf, R. 2004.  Tree dynamics in canopy gaps in old-growth forests of Nothofagus pumilio in Southern Chile.  Plant Ecology 173(1): 95-106


    other publications   

Piper, F.I. & Fajardo, A. 2011. Does Patagonia need dams? An e-letter response to Science article "A craving for hydropower"

Piper, F.I. & Fajardo, A. 2011. Dams and afforestation plans in Chilean Patagonia. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9(2): 96.

Piper, F.I. & Fajardo, A. 2010. Los proyectos hidroeléctricos y los planes de forestación en la Patagonia chilena: Fracaso garantizado? Opinion document

Fajardo, A. 2010. Reseña de libro "Introducción al análisis espacial de datos en ecología y ciencias ambientales: Métodos y aplicaciones". Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 83(2): 321-322



    roles on external bodies

  • Associate editor: Annals of Botany, Journal of Applied Ecology
  • Invited referee for journals including: Acta Oecologica, Annals of Botany, Bosque, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Ecography, Ecological Applications, Ecology, Ecology Letters, Forest Ecology and Management, Functional Ecology, Gayana Botanica, Geoderma, Global Change Biology, Global Ecology & Biogeography, Journal of Biogeography, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Plant Ecology, Journal of Vegetation Science, New Phytologist, Oecologia, Oikos, Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution & Systematics, Plant Biology, Plant Ecology, Plant Ecology & Diversity, PLoS One, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, Trees
  • Referee for FONDECyT (Chile), FONCyT (Argentina), Fondo de Investigacion del Bosque Nativo (CONAF, Chile), NSERC (Canada)
  • Member of the Sociedad de Ecología de Chile (SOCECOL), the British Ecological Society (BES), and the Ecological Society of America (ESA)

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