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Ariel Lugo

Ariel Lugo
Ecologist Director
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Jardin Botanico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba
San Juan, PR 00926-1119
United States
Current Research

In addition to continued interest in previous research areas, current research also includes an assessment of the role of tropical forests in global processes; ecological studies of tropical tree plantations; comparisons of plantations and natural forests; response of tropical forests to disturbances; studies of tropical wetlands; studies of introduced species; and the ecological characteristics of novel tropical forests including urban ecosytems.

Past Research

Research has been conducted and published for the following ecosystems: subtropical wet forest at El Verde in Puerto Rico (1963-1966). Granite outcrops in Southeastern United States (1965-1969). Tropical wet forest at the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica (1971). Mangrove forests of Florida (1971-1973 and 1977-1982), Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean (1973-present). Hardwood forest in Gainesville, Florida (1969-1973). Sand pine forest in Ocala, Florida (1971-1973). Río Dulce river in Guatemala (1972). Oklawaha river and floodplain wetlands in Florida (1972-1973). Farm pond in Gainesville, Florida (1970-1972). Fresh water prairie (Paynes Prairie) and associated lakes in Gainesville, Florida (1972-1975). Laboratory microcosms (1969-1975). Subtropical dry forest in Puerto Rico (1974-1977 and 1981-present). Sandhill forest in Gainesville, Florida (1976-1978). Palm wetlands in subtropical wet and subtropical rain forest life zones in Puerto Rico (1980-present).

Research Interest

Tropical forests including mangroves, forested wetlands, and urban forests; ecosystem functioning including productivity, nutrient cycling, succession, and response to natural and anthropogenic disturbances; social-ecological studies including natural processes of novelty and emerging novel ecosystems.

Why This Research Is Important

In the Anthropocene era (era of human domination over the world), tropical forests are more important than ever due to their biodiversity and global world. Understanding the interactions between humans and tropical forests, particularly their response and adaptation to people, becomes a vital activity if we are to maintain a healthy relationship with natural systems.

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D., Ecology, 1969
  • University of Puerto Rico, M.S., Biology, 1965
Professional Experience
  • Director and Supervisory Research Ecologist,  USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry,  1994 - Current
  • Director and Supervisory Research Ecologist,  USDA Forest Service, Institute of Tropical Forestry,  1986 - 1992
  • Project Leader,  USDA Forest Service, Institute of Tropical Forestry,  1979 - 1992
  • Division Head,  Center for Energy and Environment Research, University of Puerto Rico,  1980 - 1988
  • Staff Member,  Council on Environmental Quality, Executive Office of the President,  1978 - 1979
  • Acting Director,  Center for Wetlands, University of Florida at Gainesville,  1977 - 1978
  • Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology,  Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources,  1974 - 1975
  • Assistant Secretary for Planning and Resource Analysis,  Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources,  1973 - 1974
Featured Publications
Other Publications