E m i l i o    B r u n a

A common hypothesis put forward to explain the disappearance of plants from habitat isolates is that fragmentation disrupts plant reproduction. As yet however, there have been few experimental tests of this theory. The experiments I’m conducting are looking at the relative importance of pollen and resource limitation, pollinator efficiency, and the costs of reproduction, and incorporating these results with detailed demographic information into models predicting population fluctuations. Hopefully, the results will suggest what makes populations more or less resistant to habitat fragmentation, and then future work can test whether these results can be generalized to other plant species. This research is part of a team effort looking at the effect of fragmentation on plant populations at the BDFFP - I’m working collaboratively with John Kress (NMNH Botany) and his Postdoctoral fellows Matthew Hamilton (National Zoo) and Preston Aldrich (NMNH Botany). While I’m concentrating on the ecological side of things, they’re studying the genetic effects of fragmentation on plant populations (including Heliconia acuminata). By using the same plant populations for the ecological and genetic components of the project, we hope to see how each influences the other. It’s this combination of approaches, personnel, and location that makes this an exciting project to be a part of. Keep an eye out for the results!

Editor’s Note:Emilio is part of a very international research group. There are Brazilians, North Americans, Australians, Peruvians, Colombians, Germans, Canadians, to name just some of the nationalities working with the BDFF project. You’ll meet many of them online and on-camera in the PASSPORT TO THE RAINFOREST programs.

Emilio’s Interview/Journals Emilio Bruna’s Biography    1     2