Emilio Vilanova

Emilio Vilanova
Wildlife Conservation Society | WCS · Center for Global Conservation

PhD Environmental and Forest Sciences (University of Washington) ||| MSc Forest Management (Universidad de Los Andes)
Forest Carbon Analyst for the Global Conservation Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

About

112
Publications
77,295
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Introduction
My research interests are broad but the study of the long-term dynamics of forest ecosystems has been my primary career goal, with an emphasis on tree turnover (i.e. recruitment and mortality), productivity and carbon. As a career goal, I am interested in working at the interface between science and the practice for sustainable forest management. I am now working at the Wildlife Conservation Society as a Forest Carbon Analyst.
Additional affiliations
January 2020 - present
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (112)
Article
Water availability is the major driver of tropical forest structure and dynamics. Most research has focused on the impacts of climatic water availability, whereas remarkably little is known about the influence of water table depth and excess soil water on forest processes. Nevertheless, given that plants take up water from the soil, the impacts of...
Article
Data on tropical forests are in high demand. But ground forest measurements are hard to sustain and the people who make them are extremely disadvantaged compared to those who use them. We propose a new approach to forest data that focuses on the needs of data originators, and ensures users and funders contribute properly.
Article
Full-text available
One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknow...
Article
Full-text available
One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknow...
Article
Full-text available
For monitoring and reporting forest carbon stocks and fluxes, many countries in the tropics and subtropics rely on default values of forest aboveground biomass (AGB) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories. Default IPCC forest AGB values originated from 2006, and are relativ...
Article
Full-text available
Selective logging in the tropics is a major driver of forest degradation by altering forest structure and function, including significant losses of aboveground carbon. In this study, we used a 30-year Landsat time series (1985–2015) to analyze forest degradation and carbon emissions due to selective logging in a Forest Reserve of the Venezuelan Ama...
Article
The forests of Amazonia are among the most biodiverse plant communities on Earth. Given the immediate threats posed by climate and land-use change, an improved understanding of how this extraordinary biodiversity is spatially organized is urgently required to develop effective conservation strategies. Most Amazonian tree species are extremely rare...
Article
Full-text available
A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20537-x
Article
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The carbon sink capacity of tropical forests is substantially affected by tree mortality. However, the main drivers of tropical tree death remain largely unknown. Here we present a pan-Amazonian assessment of how and why trees die, analysing over 120,000 trees representing > 3800 species from 189 long-term RAINFOR forest plots. While tree mortality...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Palms are an iconic, diverse and often abundant component of tropical ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services. Being monocots, tree palms are evolutionarily, morphologically and physiologically distinct from other trees, and these differences have important consequences for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration and storage) and...
Chapter
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More than four decades of cumulative silvicultural experience in Venezuelan forests represents a significant progress towards sustainable forest management in the tropics. Here, based on an extensive literature review, expert opinions and discussions with forestry stakeholders in the country, we offer a broad overview of the history and current sta...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: Palms are an iconic, diverse and often abundant component of tropical ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services. Being monocots, tree palms are evolutionarily, morphologically and physiologically distinct from other trees, and these differences have important consequences for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration and storage) an...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Full-text available
The sensitivity of tropical forest carbon to climate is a key uncertainty in predicting global climate change. Although short-term drying and warming are known to affect forests, it is unknown if such effects translate into long-term responses. Here, we analyze 590 permanent plots measured across the tropics to derive the equilibrium climate contro...
Article
Full-text available
Competition among trees is an important driver of community structure and dynamics in tropical forests. Neighboring trees may impact an individual tree’s growth rate and probability of mortality, but large‐scale geographic and environmental variation in these competitive effects has yet to be evaluated across the tropical forest biome. We quantifie...
Article
Full-text available
As countries advance in greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting for climate change mitigation, consistent estimates of aboveground net biomass change (∆AGB) are needed. Countries with limited forest monitoring capabilities in the tropics and subtropics rely on IPCC 2006 default ∆AGB rates, which are values per ecological zone, per continent. Similarly, res...
Article
Full-text available
Most of the planet's diversity is concentrated in the tropics, which includes many regions undergoing rapid climate change. Yet, while climate-induced biodiversity changes are widely documented elsewhere, few studies have addressed this issue for lowland tropical ecosystems. Here we investigate whether the floristic and functional composition of in...
Article
Full-text available
Most of the planet's diversity is concentrated in the tropics, which includes many regions undergoing rapid climate change. Yet, while climate‐induced biodiversity changes are widely documented elsewhere, few studies have addressed this issue for lowland tropical ecosystems. Here we investigate whether the floristic and functional composition of in...
Article
Full-text available
Using data from 50 long-term permanent plots from across Venezuelan forests in northern South America, we explored large-scale patterns of stem turnover, aboveground biomass (AGB) and woody productivity (AGWP), and the relationships between them and with potential climatic drivers. We used principal component analysis coupled with generalized least...
Data
Pair-wise thau (τ) correlation between climate, dynamic and structure variables. Green colored cells highlight positive correlations > 0.5. Orange cells are negative correlations < -0.5. Gray cells are positive correlations between 0.2 and 0.5. Blue cells are negative correlations between -0.2 and -0.5. (DOCX)
Data
Parameters of a series of Generalized Least Squares (GLS) models for turnover, aboveground biomass (AGB) and aboveground woody productivity (AGWP) among 50 forest plots in six different regions in Venezuela. Models were fitted upon prior information and region was added as an additional factor with interactions as appropriate (+ symbol). All models...
Data
General description of permanent plots. a Climatic Water Deficit (CWD) as in Chave et al. 2014 was obtained from a global climate layer for the long-term average of CWD at 2.5 arc-minute resolution. See: http://chave.ups-tlse.fr/pantropical_allometry.htm. It is measured as the difference between rainfall and evapotranspiration during dry months onl...
Data
Relationships between turnover rates and aboveground biomass (A-C), and aboveground woody productivity (D-F). Red line indicates the mean of each turnover rate. Shaded line is the confidence interval of the linear fit between pairs of variables. (TIFF)
Data
Estimates of turnover rates, aboveground biomass and productivity for all plots. (DOCX)
Data
Bioclimatic description of 50 plots in Venezuelan forests. (TIFF)
Data
A) Kendall’s tau correlation matrix for 10 environmental variables used in the principal component analysis; B) Inertia plot of PCA; C) Relationships between three major axes of variation by region. (DOCX)
Data
Boxplots of turnover rates (A-B), AGB (C-D), and AGWP (E-F) by three seasonality conditions, and two major soil fertility groups. Letters indicate results from pos-hoc tests when significant differences were found: Turnover and seasonality: F = 4.669, p = 0.014*; Turnover and fertility: F = 13.19, p = 0.000682 ***; AGB and seasonality: F = 6.774, p...
Data
Relationships between the predicted and estimated values of turnover rates (A-B), AGB (C-D), and AGWP (E-F) based on the “best” regression models selected. Left panel refers to climatic models, while the right panel shows structure-based models for each response variable. Correlation values here are based on simple linear models between predicted a...
Article
Full-text available
Species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used in ecology and conservation. Presence-only SDMs such as MaxEnt frequently use natural history collections (NHCs) as occurrence data, given their huge numbers and accessibility. NHCs are often spatially biased which may generate inaccuracies in SDMs. Here, we test how the distribution of NHCs and Ma...
Article
Full-text available
Species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used in ecology and conservation. Presence-only SDMs such as MaxEnt frequently use natural history collections (NHCs) as occurrence data, given their huge numbers and accessibility. NHCs are often spatially biased which may generate inaccuracies in SDMs. Here, we test how the distribution of NHCs and Ma...
Article
Full-text available
Quantifying the relationship between tree diameter and height is a key component of efforts to estimate biomass and carbon stocks in tropical forests. Although substantial site‐to‐site variation in height–diameter allometries has been documented, the time consuming nature of measuring all tree heights in an inventory plot means that most studies do...
Article
Full-text available
Amazon forests are fire-sensitive ecosystems and consequently fires affect forest structure and composition. For instance, the legacy of past fire regimes may persist through some species and traits that are found due to past fires. In this study, we tested for relationships between functional traits that are classically presented as the main compo...
Research
Full-text available
The Open Letter to IUFRO was handed on Thursday 21st to IUFRO Secretary Authorities. This meeting took place in Freiburg, Germany, in the frame of the 125 Years of IUFRO Anniversary Congress. It was a very positive meeting and the IUFRO Secretary Authorities were very welcoming and are aware of the Venezuelan crisis. They also indicated that IUFRO...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents for the first time in Venezuela a joint analysis of deforestation and forest degradation processes, including its effects on carbon emissions. The Caparo Forest Reserve, located in the Western Plains ecoregion, in one of the national hot spots of deforestation, served as a case study using three different periods: 1990–2000, 200...
Article
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The extent to which pre-Columbian societies altered Amazonian landscapes is hotly debated. We performed a basin-wide analysis of pre-Columbian impacts on Amazonian forests by overlaying known archaeological sites in Amazonia with the distributions and abundances of 85 woody species domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples. Domesticated species are fiv...
Article
Full-text available
Lineages tend to retain ecological characteristics of their ancestors through time. However, for some traits, selection during evolutionary history may have also played a role in determining trait values. To address the relative importance of these processes requires large-scale quantification of traits and evolutionary relationships among species....
Data
Comparison between published values of phylogenetic signal and values found in the present study
Article
Understanding the processes that determine above-ground biomass (AGB) in Amazonian forests is important for predicting the sensitivity of these ecosystems to environmental change and for designing and evaluating dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). AGB is determined by inputs from woody productivity [woody net primary productivity (NPP)] and t...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the processes that determine aboveground biomass (AGB) in Amazonian forests is important for predicting the sensitivity of these ecosystems to environmental change and for designing and evaluating dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). AGB is determined by inputs from woody productivity (woody NPP) and the rate at which carbon is l...
Article
Full-text available
Within the tropics, the species richness of tree communities is strongly and positively associated with precipitation.Previous research has suggested that this macroecological pattern is driven by the negative effect of water-stress on thephysiological processes of most tree species. This process implies that the range limits of taxa are defined by...
Article
Understanding the processes that determine aboveground biomass (AGB) in Amazonian forests is important for predicting the sensitivity of these ecosystems to environmental change and for designing and evaluating dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). AGB is determined by inputs from woody productivity (woody NPP) and the rate at which carbon is l...
Article
The Amazon Basin has experienced more variable climate over the last decade, with a severe and widespread drought in 2005 causing large basin-wide losses of biomass. A drought of similar climatological magnitude occurred again in 2010; however, there has been no basin-wide ground-based evaluation of effects on vegetation. We examine to what extent...
Article
List of plots encompassing the Floristic tree inventories for 577 plots compiled from RAINFOR database, with their respective coordinates in Latitude (Lat.) and Longitude (Long.) , area in hectare, number of individuals with diameter equal or superior to 10 cm, number of species, number of genera and data contributors. Plots with long term data and...
Article
Phylogeny of 497 Amazonian tree and palm genera, with branches coloured according to wood density, potential tree size, maximum tree growth and mortality rates.
Article
Comparison between published values of phylogenetic signal for traits of tropical forest trees measured by Blomberg's K statistic. Bar colour indicates the different studies [1-5]; bars in black are represented by traits calculated in the present study and shades of grey show values for published studies. Bars with negative values represent absence...
Article
Phylogeny of 497 Amazonian tree and palm genera, with branches coloured according to wood density, potential tree size, maximum tree growth and mortality rates.
Article
Description of the methods used to calculate intrinsic trait values to account for the effect of variation in environmental conditions among plots
Article
Comparison between published values of phylogenetic signal for traits of tropical forest trees measured by Blomberg's K statistic. Bar colour indicates the different studies [1-5]; bars in black are represented by traits calculated in the present study and shades of grey show values for published studies. Bars with negative values represent absence...
Article
Model comparison; Loadings for Phylogenetic Principal Componets Analysis (PPCA); Sensitivity analyses
Raw Data
Full-text available
Description of the methods used to calculate intrinsic trait values to account for the effect of variation in environmental conditions among plots
Raw Data
List of plots encompassing the Floristic tree inventories for 577 plots compiled from RAINFOR database, with their respective coordinates in Latitude (Lat.) and Longitude (Long.) , area in hectare, number of individuals with diameter equal or superior to 10 cm, number of species, number of genera and data contributors. Plots with long term data and...
Article
Full-text available
Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: To examine variation in the phylogenetic diversity (PD) of tree communities across geographical and environmental gradients in Amazonia. Location: Two hundred and eighty-three c. 1 ha forest inventory plots from across Amazonia. Methods: We evaluated PD as the total phylogenetic branch length across species in each plot (PDss), the mean pair...
Article
Full-text available
While Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, the abundance of trees is skewed strongly towards relatively few 'hyperdominant' species. In addition to their diversity, Amazonian trees are a key component of the global carbon cycle, assimilating and storing more carbon than any other ecosystem on Earth. Here we ask, using a unique data set of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The aim of this study is to report the use of TerraAmazon in the Andean region. For this purpose we selected the mid-watershed of the Chama River located in the Mérida state in Venezuela, the changes in the forest cover were assessed using Landsat images between the time periods 1988-2002 and 2002-2014. To set up the system we built a data base Pos...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this work we assessed forest cover changes between 1990 and 2010 for 27 municipalities in the Western Plains of Venezuela which comprises close to 5.56% of country land-area and it is probably the region with the greatest dynamics in terms of forest cover change. Using information from the TM and ETM Landsat sensors two maps of forest cover were...
Article
Full-text available
Atmospheric carbon dioxide records indicate that the land surface has acted as a strong global carbon sink over recent decades1, 2, with a substantial fraction of this sink probably located in the tropics3, particularly in the Amazon4. Nevertheless, it is unclear how the terrestrial carbon sink will evolve as climate and atmospheric composition con...
Article
Atmospheric carbon dioxide records indicate that the land surface has acted as a strong global carbon sink over recent decades1, 2, with a substantial fraction of this sink probably located in the tropics3, particularly in the Amazon4. Nevertheless, it is unclear how the terrestrial carbon sink will evolve as climate and atmospheric composition con...
Article
Full-text available
Repeated long-term censuses have revealed large-scale spatial patterns in Amazon basin forest structure and dynamism, with some forests in the west of the basin having up to a twice as high rate of aboveground biomass production and tree recruitment as forests in the east. Possible causes for this variation could be the climatic and edaphic gradien...
Article
Aim: The accurate mapping of forest carbon stocks is essential for understanding the global carbon cycle, for assessing emissions from deforestation, and for rational land-use planning. Remote sensing (RS) is currently the key tool for this purpose, but RS does not estimate vegetation biomass directly, and thus may miss significant spatial variati...