Visit Dr. Alvaro Duque to IBED-UvA, to strengthen research lines in Biodiversity and geodiversity in the tropics


Amazonia harbours a large proportion of the earth's biodiversity, and contains over 16,000 tree species. Several hypotheses have emerged to provide an ecological explanation for the origin and maintenance of this large diversity. Recent studies, however, claim that the floristic composition and diversity of Amazonian forests are largely structured by pre-Colombian plant domestication. McMichael and collaborators have fiercely disputed this hypothesis, demonstrating that intensified efforts to quantitatively assess past human activities in Amazonia are crucial to understand the tree species composition of Amazonian forests, and their role in maintaining the world's carbon balance. Recently, the research on floristic patterns of Amazonian forests has entered a new stage by including information on the phylogenetic structure of the forest communities. A key question remains whether Amazonian forests operate as one single meta-community, or rather as a set of functionally and spatially distinct biogeographic regions, characterised by shared elements of phylogenetic structure and species composition associated to geology, soils, and landscape dynamics.
At IBED-ELD, Duivenvoorden has contributed to the above mentioned research for several decades. Alvaro Duque was his Ph.D. student from 2000 to 2004. Both Duivenvoorden and Duque are strongly involved in current studies of eco-evolutionary regionalization of Amazonia. McMichael entered IBED-ELD three years ago, and has started a new research programme centered on assessing the legacies of past human activities in Amazonian forests. Her programme includes: i) a series of MSc projects that are part of grants funded by Center for Tropical Forest Science-ForestGEO (CTFS-ForestGEO) and National Geographic Society (NGS), ii) an NWO-funded postdoctoral research project (NWO ALWOP.322)16, and iii) and a recently submitted ERC Starting Grant application. Alvaro Duque is a partner on the CTFS-ForestGEO grant.
As outlined above, our research at IBED-ELD on past use of Amazonian forests and their spatio-temporal structures of species composition and phylogeny is strongly intertwined. Because Alvaro Duque has a key expertise on both matters, we propose to invite him to IBED-ELD in July-August 2019, in order to further integrate both research lines. Among the activities planned during his visit (see further), we will ask Dr Duque to host a PhD course on Amazonian forest structure, as part of the new collaboration between the GeoSciences group (dr. Kyle Dexter and others) of the University of Edinburgh and the University of Amsterdam.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. J.F. Duivenvoorden

Affiliated with

Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit der Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica, Instituut voor Biodiversiteit en Ecosysteem Dynamica - IBED


01/07/2019 to 16/08/2019