The biogeochemical heterogeneity of tropical forests

The biogeochemical heterogeneity of tropical forests


This paper states that there has been a breadth of knowledge in relation to the biodiversity of tropical forests but limited about on the abiotic diversity, particularly biogeochemical effects. These later factors are becoming increasingly important to understand due to human perturbations in these forests. 

Goals & Methods

The goal of this paper is to both portray the importance of studying biogeochemical effects in tropical forests in order to scale up and predict ecosystem functions and to outline remote sensing techniques that can help with this process. The paper draws on multiple studies throughout the neotropics that examine canopy characteristics using remote sensing to do so. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

The authors conclude that while there are challenges to the remote sensing techniques, if these are met there is extraordinary potential in mapping canopy chemistry, structure, and taxonomy, ultimately calling for more on-the-ground practicie of these techniques in order to meet this opportunity. 


TOWNSEND A, ASNER G, CLEVELAND C. The biogeochemical heterogeneity of tropical forests. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 2008;23:424–431. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2008.04.009.


  • INSTAAR and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, Stanford, CA, USA
  • Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, USA