Maria Juliana Pardo

Université de Montréal
M.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Etienne Laliberté
Start: 2019-05-01
End: 2021-08-31


Foliar spectral variation of tropical trees in response to soil fertility
I am interested in the study of spectral and functional diversity of tree species across soil resource gradients in tropical forests. Soil fertility and more specifically, soil phosphorus (P) are important environmental drivers of species distributions and variation in canopy leaf chemistry and traits. Many foliar traits affect light absorption and scattering and, consequently, cause variation in optical properties that can be detected using spectroscopy. The relationship between soil fertility, foliar functional traits and the spectral signature of plant species, provides a meaningful window into plant functioning and ecosystem processes. In addition, significant advances in the field of spectroscopy have demonstrated unprecedented potential for its ability to detect functional traits and discriminate individual species in hyperdiverse communities. However, the extent to which traits and spectral signatures vary within individual species is an important aspect of spectral variation that has received relatively little attention. For my MSc Project, I will evaluate the extent of spectral and functional trait variation within individual species in response to soil fertility in tropical forests in Panama. To do so, I will perform spectral and functional trait measurements on tree species from environments with contrasting soil fertility. Assessing and understanding the extent of intraspecific variation and its impact on the distribution of individual species will lead to a better understanding of community assembly mechanisms in hyperdiverse ecosystems and contribute to better spectral discrimination of species by remote sensing, which are important tools for large-scale biodiversity monitoring.


spectroscopy, fertility, tropical trees, Intraspecific variation