Forests as Communities of Individuals
One way to untangle the complexity of a forest system is by breaking down the problem into smaller units. A forest can be treated as a collection of tree species. Each species population is comprised of individuals, and individuals have various life history stages through which they experience the environment differently as they grow. In my work I try to understand forest population dynamics by understanding the demography of individual trees, and how that demography differs between species. Through this approach, we can re-create forest dynamics from the more tractable understanding of tree growth, survival, and reproduction. My current work involves reintegrating these parts in a simulator, so that we can look at the whole forest again. This is the only way to test the hypotheses on how system-wide or long term changes in the environment might alter forests.