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Student Spotlight

Maria Susana Alvarado-Barrientos

Alumna Profile: M. Susana Alvarado-Barrientos

Degree: Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dissertation Title : Plant Water Use and Canopy-Fog Interactions across a Land Use Change Trajectory of Pine Reforestation in a Tropical Montate Cloud Belt

Advisor: Dr. Heidi Asbjornsen

Description of Research

Reforestation of tropical mountains is actively promoted worldwide to restore hydrological services attributed to montane forests, such as increasing stream flow and groundwater recharge. However, conclusive evidence for this causal linkage is lacking for many tropical montane environments. My dissertation research evaluates changes in plant water use associated with conversion of pasture to pine plantations in a seasonally dry cloud forest. Also, it examines the implications of these changes on the site's water yield in the face of regional climate change (namely, the reduction in cloud immersion occurrence). I hope to advance scientific knowledge about plant-water relations in cloud forests –a poorly understood area–, provide information and insights to improve predictive models of water yield from mountain catchments, and pertinent information for future policymaking regarding reforestation.

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