Who We Are
The Liana Ecology Project is operated by the Schnitzer Lab at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. The main research objectives of the Schnitzer Lab are to develop and test fundamental conceptual ecological theory pertaining to plant communities. We are focusing on understanding the mechanisms that regulate and maintain plant species diversity, the causes and consequences of plant diversity, the mechanisms that control plant abundance and distribution, and the causes and consequences of plant competition. Most of our research is conducted in tropical forests and we often use lianas as a model system to study plant ecology and to test these large conceptual ideas.
Currently, the Schnitzer Lab is conducting a number of large-scale, long-term National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored research projects in the Republic of Panama. We recently finished a full census of all of the lianas > 1 cm on the 50-ha plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. We have paired the BCI 50 ha plot study with a large-scale liana removal experiment on an adjacent mainland forest (Gigante Peninsula, Panama), which enables us to accurately quantify the effect of lianas on tree growth and mortality, as well as to quantify the role of lianas in ecosystem-level processes, such as forest carbon and nutrient storage and fluxes. Finally, we are investigating the mechanisms that control liana distribution across large-scale environmental and forest successional gradients in Panama. After we have formally published the results of these studies we will post them to this site.
We created the Liana Ecology Project in 2011 as a way to share our research ideas and findings with other scientists and with the general public. Our goal is to provide an interactive forum for researchers worldwide to contribute their work to the rapidly expanding field of liana ecology. We hope that researchers will contribute to the site by uploading their liana-related research publications, photos, and metadata descriptions of their data. With active participation by the global liana community, we can formulate a clear picture of what research questions are being addressed, what major questions are yet unresolved, and what geographical locations need more attention.