Forestry professors used to remind students that, whereas physicians bury their mistakes, foresters die before theirs are noticed. But good institutions live longer than the scientists who contribute to building them, and the half-century of work of the USDA Forest Service's Institute of Tropical Forestry (ITF) is in plain view: an unprecedented corpus of accomplishments that would instill pride in any organization. There is scarcely anyone interested in current issues of tropical forestry who would not benefit from a refresher course in ITF's findings: its early collaboration with farmers to establish plantations, its successes in what we now call social forestry, its continuous improvement of nursery practices, its screening trials of native species, its development of wood-processing technologies appropriate for developing countries, its thorough analysis of tropical forest function, and its holistic approach toward conservation of endangered species. Fortunately, ITF has a long history of information exchange through teaching; like many others, I got my own start in tropical forest ecology fromjust such a course in Puerto Rico. And long before politicians recognized the global importance of tropical forestry, the ITF staff served actively as ambassadors of the discipline, visiting tropical coun tries everywhere to learn and, when invited to do so, to help solve local problems. It is a general principle of biogeography that species' turnover rates on islands are higher than those on continents. Inevitably, the same is true of scientists assigned to work on islands.
1. The Problem and Background.- 1. Tropical Forests: Their Future and Our Future.- 2. The Status of Tropical Forests.- 3. A Forest Research Institution in the West Indies: The First 50 Years.- 2. Long-Term Ecological Research in Puerto Rico.- 4. Ecosystem-Level Properties of the Luquillo Experimental Forest with Emphasis on the Tabonuco Forest.- 5. The Colorado and Dwarf Forests of Puerto Rico's Luquillo Mountaints 109.- 6. Structure, Succession, and Soil Chemistry of Palm Forests in the Luquillo Experimental Forest.- 7. The Dry Forests of Puerto Rico's South Coast.- 8. Forest Plantations in Puerto Rico.- 9. A Review of the Population Dynamics of Selected Tree Species in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico.- 10. Recovery of a Tropical Forest after Gamma Irradiation: A 23-Year Chronicle.- 3. Research Areas That Require Increased Focus in the Tropics.- 11. Physiological Ecology of Trees and Applications to Forest Management.- 12. Mineral Nutrition and Soil Fertility in Tropical Rain Forests.- 13. Wildlife in Managed Tropical Forests: A Neotropical Perspective.- 14. Tropical Forest Systems and the Human Economy.- 4. Direction for Future Research in Tropical Forests.- 15. Perspectives in Tropical Rain Forest Research.- 16. Tropical Forestry as if People Mattered.- 17. Toward a Global Research Strategy on the Ecology of Natural Tropical Forests to Meet Conservation and Management Needs.
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