Lucas Fortini, Ph.D.
Ph.D. 2010 Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
B.S. 2001 Resource Management (Forest Ecology concentration) University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
A.A. 1999 Environmental Studies, Moorpark College, Moorpark, CA
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.
Personal Interests: Family, playing music, biking, photography, snorkeling and free diving.
Science and Products
Using Plant Physiologic Responses to Environmental Conditions to Improve Species and Habitat Management in Hawaii
Recent studies show that past and ongoing environmental changes have been substantial and have likely already affected conservation efforts in Hawai‘i. Much of the state has experienced substantial drying, including decreases in mean annual precipitation since the 1920s, longer rainless periods, and decreasing stream flow. Temperatures have been increasing in Hawai‘i for the last 40 years,...
Climate change is expected to alter the seasonal and annual patterns of rainfall and temperature in the Hawaiian Islands. Warming temperatures and altered precipitation patterns both impact ecological systems, but managing these impacts is difficult without detailed information on the magnitude and timing of these climate-related changes.
Hawai‘i's precipitation is greatest in upland areas that are typically forested. This precipitation provides water for both people and ecosystems. Precipitation can either run off and contribute to streamflow, or infiltrate into the ground and provide water for plants, base flow to streams, or recharge to aquifers. The exact routing that water takes is controlled by many factors, including the...
Within a context of human-mediated land cover change, invasive competitors, predators and disease, conservation biologists and practitioners are now concerned that climate change will further impact the beleaguered flora and fauna of the Pacific Islands. Across the region and elsewhere, to determine these potential impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems, research efforts have...
Expanding a Dynamic Model of Species Vulnerability to Climate Change for Hawai‘i and Other Pacific Island Ecosystems
Initial studies suggest terrestrial Hawaiian plant species may be vulnerable to climate change. However, these models lack information on species-specific traits that affect ecological and evolutionary responses of species to climate change. Research is needed to refine current vulnerability models and apply these to Pacific Islands outside Hawai‘i.
Potential impacts of projected climate change on vegetation management in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
Climate change will likely alter the seasonal and annual patterns of rainfall and temperature in Hawai`i. This is a major concern for resource managers at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park where intensely managed Special Ecological Areas (SEAs), focal sites for managing rare and endangered plants, may no longer provide suitable habitat under future...Camp, Richard J.; Loh, Rhonda; Berkowitz, S. Paul; Brinck, Kevin W.; Jacobi, James D.; Price, Jonathan; McDaniel, Sierra; Fortini, Lucas B.
Assessing the potential of translocating vulnerable forest birds by searching for novel and enduring climatic ranges
Hawaiian forest birds are imperiled, with fewer than half the original >40 species remaining extant. Recent studies document ongoing rapid population decline and pro- ject complete climate-based range losses for the critically endangered Kaua’i endemics ‘akeke’e (Loxops caeruleirostris) and ‘akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) by end-of-century due to...Fortini, Lucas B.; Kaiser, Lauren R.; Vorsino, Adam E.; Paxton, Eben H.; Jacobi, James D.
Baseline and projected future carbon storage and carbon fluxes in ecosystems of Hawai‘i
This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to improve understanding of factors influencing carbon balance in ecosystems of Hawai‘i. Ecosystem carbon storage, carbon fluxes, and carbon balance were examined for major terrestrial ecosystems on the seven main...Selmants, Paul C.; Giardina, Christian P.; Jacobi, James D.; Zhu, Zhiliang
Large-scale range collapse of Hawaiian forest birds under climate change and the need 21st century conservation options
Hawaiian forest birds serve as an ideal group to explore the extent of climate change impacts on at-risk species. Avian malaria constrains many remaining Hawaiian forest bird species to high elevations where temperatures are too cool for malaria's life cycle and its principal mosquito vector. The impact of climate change on Hawaiian forest birds...Fortini, Lucas B.; Vorsino, Adam E.; Amidon, Fred A.; Paxton, Eben H.; Jacobi, James D.
Modeling the complex impacts of timber harvests to find optimal management regimes for Amazon tidal floodplain forests
At the Amazon estuary, the oldest logging frontier in the Amazon, no studies have comprehensively explored the potential long-term population and yield consequences of multiple timber harvests over time. Matrix population modeling is one way to simulate long-term impacts of tree harvests, but this approach has often ignored common impacts of tree...Fortini, Lucas B.; Cropper, Wendell P.; Zarin, Daniel J.
The economic viability of smallholder timber production under expanding açaí palm production in the Amazon Estuary
Relatively little attention has been paid to the economic potentials and limitations of tropical timber production and management at smallholder scales, with the most relevant research focusing on community forestry efforts. As a rare tropical example of long-lasting small-scale timber production, in this study we explore the economics of...Fortini, Lucas B.; Douglas R. Carter
Trends in conservation research and management in Hawai‘i over the past 20 years
Hawaiʻi, an archipelago of the most isolated inhabited islands on the planet, faces unique and extreme challenges to its biodiversity. We examined how the conservation community has responded to these challenges and how the responses have changed over time, using twenty years of abstracts from the Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference, a yearly...Dutra Elliott, Daniela; Fortini, Lucas B.; Cameron Duffy, David
Modeling Hawaiian ecosystem degradation due to invasive plants under current and future climates
Occupation of native ecosystems by invasive plant species alters their structure and/or function. In Hawaii, a subset of introduced plants is regarded as extremely harmful due to competitive ability, ecosystem modification, and biogeochemical habitat degradation. By controlling this subset of highly invasive ecosystem modifiers, conservation...Vorsino, Adam E.; Fortini, Lucas B.; Amidon, Fred A.; Miller, Stephen E.; Jacobi, James D.; Price, Jonathan P.; `Ohukani`ohi`a Gon, Sam; Koob, Gregory A.
A landscape-based assessment of climate change vulnerability for all native Hawaiian plants
In Hawaiʽi and elsewhere, research efforts have focused on two main approaches to determine the potential impacts of climate change on individual species: estimating species vulnerabilities and projecting responses of species to expected changes. We integrated these approaches by defining vulnerability as the inability of species to exhibit any of...Fortini, Lucas B.; Price, Jonathan; Jacobi, James; Vorsino, Adam; Burgett, Jeff; Brinck, Kevin W.; Amidon, Fred; Miller, Steve; `Ohukani`ohi`a Gon, Sam; Koob, Gregory; Paxton, Eben H.
Palynological composition of a Lower Cretaceous South American tropical sequence: Climatic implications and diversity comparisons with other latitudes.
Premise of the study: Reconstruction of floristic patterns during the early diversification of angiosperms is impeded by the scarce fossil record, especially in tropical latitudes. Here we collected quantitative palynological data from a stratigraphic sequence in tropical South America to provide floristic and climatic insights into such tropical...Mejia-Velasquez, Paula J.; Dilcher, David L.; Jaramillo, Carlos A.; Fortini, Lucas B.; Manchester, Steven R.