One overarching goal in community ecology is to understand the mechanisms of species coexistence across scales. Tropical forests have long served as a testing ground for these theories: in the most diverse of these forests every other tree is a representant of a new species. I am combining field research and mathematical modeling to explore and compare the different mechanisms proposed to explain this astounding biodiversity. Much of my recent field research was in French Guiana, as part of the ANR-funded Bridge project, and especially at the Nouragues research station (French Guiana). Current projects also involve the study of large-scale patterns of plant species and phylogenetic diversity in South America (Brazil, Bolivia, Guyana, Venezuela, and Peru).
I am also interested in the biogeochemical cycling between the biosphere and the atmosphere. I am involved in a project aimed at providing biometric methods for measuring carbon stock and balance for tropical forests at a global scale. This entails a precise individual-level estimation of biomass stocks, both for trees and for lianas, detailed scaling-up techniques, and long-term census plots for woody plants. This work is being developed through collaborations with the CTFS, and the Rainfor international research network. A recent extension of this project is the development of a remote-sensing synthetic aperture radar technology for measuring biomass stocks in forested ecosystems worldwide.