Congratulations to Tom Ruzycki and coauthors on a recent publication in the journal Remote Sensing (Helmer, E.H., T.S. Ruzycki, B.T. Wilson, K.R. Sherrill, M.A. Lefsky, H. Marcano-Vega, T.J. Brandeis, H.E. Erickson, and B. Ruefenacht. 2018. Tropical deforestation and recolonization by exotic and native trees: spatial patterns of tropical forest biomass, functional groups, and species counts and links to stand age, geoclimate, and sustainability goals. Remote Sensing 10:1724. doi: 10.3390/rs10111724). The work described in the article suggests that spatial data on forest age, in conjunction with spatial data on climate and geology, may be useful for sustainable management of tropical forests.
The authors mapped forest characteristics across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on the basis of field inventories, Landsat and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images, and data on climate, topography, land cover, and geology. They found that signatures of extensive deforestation were apparent for decades, even after tree regeneration. Unprotected forests on relative accessible or arable lands were characterized by a higher proportion of young trees and non-native trees than older forests in more-remote areas. Species richness was low, and the young forests stored relatively little carbon. Although their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen was high, they also may release nitrous oxides, which contribute to global increases in temperature.
The article was included in a special issue on remote sensing of tropical forest biodiversity.