Plant Ecology of Tropical Forests

Assistant Researcher
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Research Interests

I am a plant ecologist working on fundamental questions regarding the role of biological and environmental drivers of the ecological dynamics of tropical forests. I am interested in the structure and carbon dynamics of tropical forests, plant population ecology, and the effects of habitat fragmentation on tree species richness and abundance, emphasizing forest regeneration. My research is conducted primarily in Amazon and Atlantic forest sites in Brazil.

Professional Experience

  • Research Scientist, Institute Agricultural Sciences (IAC), Campinas (Brazil), 2012-2016
  • Visiting Scientist, Department of Plant Biology, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil, 2011-2016
  • Research Fellow for the NSF PIRE Program in Amazon-Climate Interactions at University of Arizona, July 2010-2012
  • Research Associate, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado, 2008-2011
  • Consulting Scientist for NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network), 2008-2009
  • Research Scientist, Institute of Botany (State Secretary of Environment), Department of Ecology, São Paulo (Brazil), 2004-2012
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Ecological Modeling, UFZ, Leipzig, Germany (2003)
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology, University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil (2000-2003)


  • 2000, PhD in Plant Biology, University of Campinas, Brazil
  • 1994, MSc in Plant Biology, University of Campinas, Brazil
  • 1991, BSc, University of Campinas, Brazil


Scaranello, MAS, Castro, BS, Farias, RA, Vieira, SA, Alves, LF, Robortella HS & Aragão, LEOC. The role of stand structure and palm abundance in predicting aboveground biomass at local scale in southern Amazonia. Plant Ecology & Diversity 9:409-420.  DOI 10.1080/17550874.2016.1264015

Slik, JWS, Arroyo-Rodrigues, V, Aiba, S, Alvarez-Loayza, P, Alves, LF, Ashton, P, et al. 2015. An estimate of the number of tropical tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 112: 7472-7477 doi/10.1073/pnas.1423147112

Stark, SC, Enquist, BJ, Saleska, SR. Leitold, V, Schietti, J, Longo, M, Alves, LF, Camargo, PB, Oliveira Jr, RC. 2015. Linking canopy leaf area and light environments with tree size distributions to explain Amazon forest demography. Ecology Letters 18:636-645 DOI: 10.1111/ele.12440

DeWalt, SA, Schnitzer, S, Alves, LF, Bongers, F, Burnham, RJ, et al. 2015. Biogeographical patterns of liana abundance and diversity. In: Stefan Schnitzer (ed.), Ecology of lianas, pp. 131-146. Wiley-Blackwell DOI: 10.1002/9781118392409.ch1

Grombone-Guaratini, MA, Alves, LF, Vinha, D, Franco, GADC. 2014. Seed rain in areas with and without bamboo dominance within an urban fragment of the Atlantic Forest. Acta Botanica Brasilica 28:76-85

Eisenlohr, PV, Alves, LF, Bernacci, LC, Padgurschi, MCG, Torres, RB,. Prata, EMB, Santos, FAM, Assis, MA, Ramos, E, Rochelle, ALC, Martins, FR, Campos, MCR, Pedroni, F, Sanchez, M, Pereira, LS, Vieira, SA, Gomes, JAMA, Tamashiro, JY, Scaranello, MAS, Caron, CJ, Joly, CA. 2013. Disturbances, elevation, topography and spatial proximity drive vegetation patterns along an altitudinal gradient of a top biodiversity hotspot. Biodiversity and Conservation 22:2767-2783 DOI 10.1007/s10531-013-0553-x

Stark, SC, Leitold, V, Wu, JL, Hunter, MO, Castilho, CV, Costa, FRC, McMahon, SM, Parker, GG, . Shimabukuro, MT, Lefsky, MA, Keller, M, Alves, LF, Schietti, J, Shimabukuro, YE, Brandao, DO, Woodcock, TW, Higuchi, N, Camargo, PBm Oliveira, RC, Saleska, SR. 2012. Amazon forest carbon dynamics predicted by profiles of canopy leaf area and light environment. Ecology Letters 15:1406-1414 doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01864.x

Kao, RH, Gibson, CM, Gallery, RE, Meier, CL, Barnett, DT, Docherty, KM, Blevins, KK, Travers, PD, Azuaje, E, Springer, YP, Thibault, KM, McKenzie, VJ, Keller, M, Alves, LF, Hinckley, ES, Parnell, J, & Schimel, D. 2012. NEON terrestrial field observations: designing continental-scale, standardized sampling. Ecosphere 3:art115

Alves, LF, Assis, MA, van Melis, J, Barros, ALS, Vieira, SA, Martins, FR, Martinelli LA, Joly, CA. 2012. Variation in liana abundance and biomass along an elevational gradient in the tropical Atlantic Forest (Brazil). Ecological Research 27: 323-332 doi:10.1007/s11284-011-0902-8

Scaranello, MAS, Alves, LF, Vieira, SA, Camargo, PB, Joly, CA, Martinelli, LA. 2012. Height-diameter relationships of tropical Atlantic moist forest trees in southeastern Brazil. Scientia Agricola 69:26-37

Vieira, SA, Alves LF, Duarte-Neto, PJ, Martins, SC, Veiga, LG, Scaranello, MA, Picollo, MC, Camargo, PB, Carmo, JB, Sousa-Neto, E, Santos, FAM, Joly, CA and Martinelli, LA. 2011. Stocks of carbon and nitrogen and partitioning between above- and belowground pools in the Brazilian coastal Atlantic Forest elevation range. Ecology & Evolution 1:421-434 doi: 10.1002/ece3.41

Pütz, S, Groeneveld, J, Alves LF, Metzger, JP, Huth, A. 2011. Fragmentation drives tropical forest fragments to early successional states: A modelling study for Brazilian Atlantic forests. Ecological Modelling 222:1986-1997 doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.03.038

Sousa Neto, E, Carmo, JB, Keller, M, Martins, SC, Alves LF, Vieira, SA, Piccolo, MC, Camargo, P, Couto, HTZ, Joly, CA and Martinelli. LA. 2011. Soil-atmosphere exchange of nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide in a gradient of elevation in the coastal Brazilian Atlantic forest. Biogeosciences 8:733–742 doi:10.5194/bg-8-733-2011

Vinha, D, Alves, LF, Zaidan, LBP, Grombone-Guaratini, MT. 2011. The potential of the soil seed bank for the regeneration of a tropical urban forest dominated by bamboo. Landscape and Urban Planning 99:178-185 doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2010.11.003

Andrade, TMB, Camargo, PB, Silva, DML, Piccolo, MC, Alves, LF, Vieira, SA, Joly, CA, Martinelli, LA. 2011. Dynamics of dissolved forms of carbon and inorganic nitrogen in small watersheds of the coastal Atlantic forest in Southeast Brazil. Water, Soil, and Air Pollution 214:393-408 doi: 10.1007/s11270-010-0431-z.

Alves, LF, Vieira, SA, Scaranello, MA, Camargo, PB, Santos, FAM, Joly, CA, Martinelli, LA. 2010. Forest structure and live aboveground biomass along an elevational gradient of tropical moist forest (Brazil). Forest Ecology and Management 260:679–691 doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2010.05.023

Groeneveld, J, Alves, LF, Bernacci, LC, Catharino ELM, Knogge C, Metzger, JP, Pütz, S & Huth, A. 2009. The impact of fragmentation and density regulation on forest succession in the Atlantic rain forest. Ecological Modelling 220: 2450–2459

Vieira, AS, Alves, LF, (and 20 co-autors). 2008. Estimation of biomass and carbon stocks: the case of the Atlantic Forest. Biota Neotropica 8 (2):

Silva-Matos, DM & Alves, LF. 2008. Palm species distribution and soil moisture in a swampy area of the Atlantic Forest, South-Eastern Brazil. Ecotropica 14: 69-74

Alves, LF & Metzger, JP. 2007. Landscape structure and tropical tree seedling diversity in Atlantic rain forest, Brazil. In: Bunce, RGH, Jongman, RHG, Hojas, L & Well, S. (eds). Proceedings of the 7th IALE World Congress, Part 2, Pp. 1085. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Alves, LF & Metzger, JP. 2006. Forest regeneration in areas of secondary forest in the Morro Grande Forest Reserve, Cotia, SP Biota Neotropica 6 (2): (In Portuguese)

Alves, LF, Martins, FR & Santos, FAM. 2004. Allometry of a Neotropical palm, Euterpe edulis Mart. Acta Botanica Brasilica 18:369-374 doi: 10.1590/S0102-33062004000200016

Alves, LF & Santos, FAM. 2002. Tree allometry and crown shape of four tree species in Atlantic rain forest, SE Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology 18:245-260. doi: 10.1017/S026646740200216X

Santos, FAM, Pedroni, F, Alves, LF, Sanchez, M, 1998. Structure and dynamics of tree species of the Atlantic Forest. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências 70:873-880

Keller, M, Alves, LF, Aulenbach, S, Johnson, B, Kampe, T, Kao, R, Kuester, M, Loescher, H, Mckenzie, V, Powell, H, Schimel, D. 2010. NEON Scientific Data Products Catalog. Boulder, Colorado, USA: National Ecological Observatory Network (Technical Report)

Schimel, D, Keller, M, Duffy, P, Alves, LF, Aulenbach, S, Johnson, B, Hehn, T, Kampe, T, Kao, R, Kuester, M, Loescher, H, Mckenzie, V, Powell, H. 2009. The NEON Strategy: Enabling Continental Scale Ecological Forecasting. Boulder, Colorado, USA: National Ecological Observatory Network (Technical Report)

Ongoing Projects

2015-2017, “Spatially-structured ecological processes in a megadiverse tropical forest”. Co-I with PI Dr. Flavio A M Santos (UNICAMP, Brazil). Funded by Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), Brazil

2014-2017, “Understanding the Response of Photosynthetic Metabolism in Tropical Forests to Seasonal Climate Variations”. Collaborator with PI Dr.Luiz Aragão (INPE, Brazil). Funded by FAPESP/DOE

2013-2016, “Epiphyllic communities on leaves at tropical forests: causes and consequences for leaf functioning at different scales”. Collaborator with PI Dr. Bruno Rosado (UERJ, Brazil). Funded by USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), USA