DNRF Chair: Professor Hanna Tuomisto
August 2023 - December 2026
Aarhus University, Institut for Biologi
Hanna Tuomisto is broadly interested in ecology and biogeography of tropical forests. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in different parts of tropical America, especially Amazonia, to document plant–soil relationships, spatial variation in plant community composition, and biogeographical patterns across the tropical rainforest biome.
To be able to sample megadiverse forests over an entire continent, Hanna Tuomisto has applied and refined the indicator species approach. This means that instead of inventorying all plants, the research focuses on an easily identified plant group that can serve as an indicator of general floristic and biogeographical patterns. Hanna Tuomisto’s pet group is the ferns, on which she has collected an extensive distributional, ecological and taxonomical knowledge base. In the DRNF project, she will work closely together with researchers focused on other plant groups, especially palms and the family Melastomataceae, to address questions related to the origin of the high species richness in the tropics. For example, how is the process of speciation related to ecological niches, species traits and biogeography of species occurrence.
An increasing concern is the future of the rain forests, as climate change threatens to make large parts of Amazonia hotter and drier. Observing and documenting how such changes may be affecting forest-dependent species and their distributions is a huge task. One aim of the DRNF project is to develop monitoring methods that are less dependent than the current ones on the time availability of those few specialists who can identify plant species in the field or in the herbarium.