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Tamara Heartsill Scalley

Tamara Heartsill Scalley
Research Ecologist
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
U.S. Forest Service - IITF, Jardin Botanico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba
Rio Piedras, PR 00926
United States
Research Interest
Ecology of tropical forests, with a focus on community composition responses to disturbance and long-term dynamics of permanent forest plots in the Caribbean.  Study interests also include coastal and montane wetlands, riparian zones, stream exports and aquatic fauna in headwater catchments and streams.
  • Utah State University, Logan, Ph.D., Ecology, 2005
  • University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras , M.S., Biology, 2000
  • University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras , B.A., Geography, 1994
Professional Experience
  • Detail, Natural Infrastructure for Caribbean Resilience (NICaR) Program,  USDA Forest Service, International Programs, Office of the Chief,  2021 - 2021
  • Post Doctoral Research Faculty,  University of Pennsylvania, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences,  2005 - 2008
Professional Organizations
  • American Fisheries Society,  2019 - Current
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography,  2018 - Current
  • Society of Wetland Scientists,  2017 - Current
  • Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation,  1998 - Current
  • Ecological Society of America,  1998 - Current
Awards & Recognition
  • National Wilderness Awards, 2017
    Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Research Award
  • USDA Forest Service Wilderness Legacy Award , 2014
    Awarded for dedication and contributions to Wilderness Stewardship. Received for leading and coordinating activities commemorating the Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary.
  • USDA Forest Service Chief’s Award, 2013
    Open Space Conservation. For The Greater Northeast Reserve, A Collaborative Journey for the Conservation of 11,000 acres of Open Space, with a team from International Institute of Tropical Forestry and El Yunque National Forest, Region 8.
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

A Caribbean Foresters Collaborative Network for Understanding Regional Forest Dynamics

Year: 2016
The role of Caribbean forestry research in permanent plots has been identified as both a previously untapped regional source for capacity building as well as serving as sentinel sites for understanding responses to climate change. The new perspective on Caribbean forests emerging from regional colla...

Riparian Vegetation Restoration in Light of Succession; Management Implications for Restoration in Tropical Secondary Forests

Year: 2016
There is a wide variety of approaches on how to determine when a river restoration project can be considered ecologically successful. The limited information on tropical river and riparian restoration responses makes this practice a subjective component of river management. Considering the role of s...

Challenges to Riparian Function in a Tropical, Urban Stream Network

Year: 2016
Limited connectivity of riparian areas, pluvial drainages, and highly modified stream channels affect hydrological function of green spaces in urban watersheds.

Forested Coastal Wetland Displacement in the 21st Century Driven by Saltwater Intrusion as Consequence of Rising Sea-level

Year: 2019
Coastal wetlands are facing challenges to their persistence due to accelerated sea-level rise, limited and fragmented coastal lands for migration, and modified surface freshwater flows. Accelerated sea-level rise in the Caribbean is affecting coastal wetlands due to saltwater intrusion, which has a ...

A Systemic Review of More Than 100 years of Published Research on Hurricanes and Forests in Puerto Rico Presents What Sites and Types of Studies Have Contributed the Most to Our Current Knowledge.

Year: 2019
The vast majority of knowledge about hurricanes and forests comes from very wet and humid areas, while dry coastal locations have been less studied.

Post-Hurricane Effects Under the Canopy

Year: 2020
Forest managers benefit from knowledge about species composition, biomass, and %cover in understory vegetation among ridges, slopes and valleys in tropical forests during hurricane succession. 

Changes in Structure, Composition, and Nutrients During 15 years of Hurricane-Induced Succession in a Subtropical Wet Forest in Puerto Rico

Year: 2010
Quantifying the impacts and recovery of forest resources to hurricanes and multiple disturbances is essential to managing forests in hurricane-prone areas and in understanding the potential impacts of climate change. Research in the Luquillo Experimental Forest in Puerto Rico has documented the chan...

Seasonality and Forest Succession in Tropical Watersheds Affects Stream Export

Year: 2012
Continuous export of organic matter from mountain streams depends on forested headwaters contributing leaf litter of varied quantity and quality year round

BIOFRAG: A New Database for Analyzing Biodiversity Responses to Forest Fragmentation

Year: 2015
A collaboration among more than 50 scientists from international institutions produced a database that contributes to understanding biodiveristy responses to forest fragmentation. The database includes three landscapes that were sampled as long-term time series, one of these comes from International...

Land-cover Composition, Water Resources and Land Management in the Watersheds of the Luquillo Mountains, Northeastern Puerto Rico

Year: 2015
An important element for wise use of water-related ecosystem services is understanding land-cover composition and its relation to water resources at different scales of management and decision making.

Wild and Scenic Rivers: their contributions to aquatic species conservation and opportunities for improvement

Year: 2018
Wild and Scenic Rivers are designated to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. These rivers also serve as strongholds for the conservation of aquatic biodiversity. Effective...

Novelty in Tropical Forests

Year: 2020
Identifying interventions that help reduce ecosystem service tradeoffs in novel forests can contribute towards resilient social-ecological technological forest systems. Viewed from the point of view of biodiversity and conservation biology, the future of tropical forests depends on what managers and...

Dams slow decomposition of leaf detritus by eliminating shrimp.

Year: 2010
Forest Service sponsored research with the University of Georgia found that the absence of shrimp causes drastic changes to stream ecosystems.

Hurricanes Disturb Non-tree Subtropical Wet Forest Species Composition

Year: 2011
Hurricane disturbance caused pronounced and persistent changes in the non-tree species composition of a subtropical wet forest. A unique long-term Forest Service dataset tracked the response and recovery of tropical forest herb, shrub, and vine communities to multiple hurricanes over 21 years on the...