African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network

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About Afritron

AfriTRON brings together researchers who maintain permanent sample plots in African tropical forests. By compiling and comparing these studies on a regional scale new information becomes available, that may provide vital insights into the mechanisms underlying the current responses of tropical ecosystems to climate and the possible future of African forests under climate and other environmental changes scenarios. 

The aims of AfriTRON are to investigate six areas of interest: 

Quantifying the carbon stocks of African tropical forest.

How much carbon do African tropical forest store?

Quantifying the carbon balance of African tropical forest.

For example, have old-growth African tropical forests been increasing in aboveground carbon storage? And if so by how much?

Quantifying changes in biodiversity.

Given changes in the global environment which tree species are the winners and which are the losers?

Understand the linkages between biodiversity and forest function.

For example, as different species process and store different amounts of carbon, how will biodiversity change impact on forest functions such as carbon storage and productivity?

Test hypotheses and results from other areas of the tropics, notably results from the RAINFOR network of plots across South America.

For example, are Amazonian and African forests showing concerted changes in structure, function and biodiversity? Can we generalise predictions of future forest change to the biome? 

Better understand tropical forest ecology and biogeochemistry.

For example the relationships between productivity, diversity, mortality and biomass, and their dependency on soil properties and climate.

The development of the AfriTRON network is a major international scientific effort, which sometimes requires the transfer of unpublished data between participants. All participants have undertaken the time and energy required to successfully complete fieldwork, often under difficult conditions. Following this there is a major investment in entering and checking data and herbarium work to produce high-quality data. There are intellectual property implications at each stage of the process that need careful assessment. AfriTRON uses data-sharing agreements whereby participants allow their data to be utilised to attempt to answer a specific question by specific researchers.

We are very interested in expanding the network, please contact Simon Lewis if you are interested in being involved.