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Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

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Aerial photograph of Hanalei Bay on the Island of Kauai

Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center Staff

Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center Lead Scientists

Lucas Fortini

Lucas Fortini Ph.D.

Title  Research Ecologist
Phone  (808) 687-6158
Mailing address  Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
677 Ala Moana Blvd. Ste. 615
Honolulu, HI 96813

A.A., 1999Environmental Studies, A.A., 1999; Moorpark College (Moorpark, CA)
B.S. 2001Resource Management, B.S. (with forest ecology concentration), 2001; University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Ph.D. 2010Forest Resources and Conservation, PhD, December 2010; University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

Expertise / Specialty:
Research focused on how the response of populations and communities to natural and human-made disturbance determine ecological resilience and shape opportunities for conservation and management. Interested in using quantitative methods, including simulation modeling, to make conservation and management efforts more science-based. Extensive experience in inventorying and long-term monitoring of plant communities for compositional/ structural assessments and forest dynamics studies. Expertise in population and community ecology modeling and analyses. Interdisciplinary training and experience in forest mensuration, plant ecophysiology, remote sensing, GIS and natural resource economics, among others. International fieldwork experience in isolated and logistically challenging settings.

Research Interests:
Determining impacts of climate change on Pacific Island ecosystems and their interactions with current serious threats of invasives, land cover change, and fire.

Featured Studies:
While being part of the PIERC, I am a full time core member of the Pacific Island Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC,, based in Honolulu. PICCC is part of the U.S. network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives ( created to address large-scale resource conservation issues that have proven to be intractable at local scales, such as climate change. To that effect, PICCC is partially charged with producing science that moves conservation and management efforts towards necessary climate change adaptation. I am currently in the process of conducting vulnerability assessments to be applied to multiple resources of interest to the diverse set of PICCC member organizations.

Select Publications :

Fortini, L. B., D. J. Zarin. 2010. Population dynamics of Amazon tidal floodplain forests: Links to the past, present and future of forest use and management. Forest Ecology and Management

Fortini, L. B., E. M. Bruna, D. J. Zarin, S. S. Vasconcelos, I. S. Miranda. 2010. Altered resource availability and the population dynamics of Amazonian secondary forest tree species. Oecologia 162(4):923-934.

Constantino, P, L. Fortini, F. Kaxinawa, A. Kaxinawa, E. Kaxinawa, A. Kaxinawa, L. Kaxinawa, J. Kaxinawa, J. Kaxinawa. 2008. Indigenous collaborative research for wildlife management in Amazonia: The case of the Kaxinawa, Acre, Brazil. Biological Conservation 141: 2718-2729.

Fortini, L. B., F.G. Rabelo, D. J. Zarin. 2006. Mixed potential for sustainable forest use in the tidal floodplain of the Amazon River. Forest Ecology and Management 231(1): 78-85.

Kayler, Z. E., L. B. Fortini, J. J. Battles. 2005. Group selection edge effects on the vascular plant community of a Sierra Nevada old-growth forest. Madroņo 52(4): 262-266.

Aragão, D. V. de, Fortini, L. B., Mulkey, S. S., Zarin, D. J., Araújo, M. M., Carvalho, C. J. R. 2005. Correlation but no causation between leaf nitrogen and maximum assimilation: the role of drought and reproduction in gas exchange in an understory tropical plant Miconia ciliata (Melastomataceae). American Journal of Botany. 92(3): 456-461.

Fortini, L. B., S. S. Mulkey, D. J. Zarin, S. S. Vasconcelos, and C. J. R. de Carvalho. 2003. Drought constraints on leaf gas exchange by Miconia ciliata (Melastomataceae) in the understory of an Eastern Amazonian regrowth forest stand. American Journal of Botany 90(7): 1064-1070.

I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and moved to California in 1993. Following my life-long interest in the natural environment, I got an A.A. degree in environmental studies from Moorpark College and a B.S. degree in natural resource management from UC Berkeley. After graduating in Berkeley, I decided to focus my research in tropical ecosystems. Hired as a research scientist by Daniel Zarin at the UF, I then spent a few years working on multiple forest ecology research projects in the Amazon before starting my PhD at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. In my Phd, I worked with traditional communities in the Amazon Estuary to determine the viability of small-scale forest management though the use of integrated ecological and economic watershed-scale models. After my PhD, I am driven to make conservation and management efforts more science-based by pursuing analytical and modeling approaches that yield relevant and applied results. In that regard, I am very excited about all of the opportunities available for applied ecological research in the Pacific Islands.

Personal Interests: My wife, playing music, biking, photography, snorkeling & free diving.


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