Tropical Leaves

Jason Vleminckx

Exploring the Wonders of the Natural Sciences with R

 
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A Little About Me

As far as I remember, I have never seen myself doing anything else than being a scientist. Understanding life was for me a particularly intriguing field and naturally led me to become a biologist. During my Master's degree, I faced the dilemma of having to choose a specialization and discovered I was interested in all biological fields of study. I then realized that specializing in biostatistics would allow me to solve the issue, by being able to investigate various types of living communities, from tropical trees to insect or fungi. I'm amazed by the power of statistics to shed light on exciting hypotheses that aim to explain species coexistence or species diversification in natural ecosystems.
Through passion and dedication, I reached a milestone in my career when, in 2015, I achieved a PhD on the ecology of tree species in tropical forests. Since then, my research has progressed and evolved into diverse projects driven by the results of field inventories in Africa and the Amazon. I invite you to take a look at my published work to get a better idea of the fruits of my research. Feel free to get in touch with me to say hi or for more information about my work.

 

My Research

My field of research concerns the ecology of tree communities. During my PhD (2010-2015) at the University of Brussels, I investigated the influences of soil properties and past anthropogenic disturbances on tree species assembly, using data collected during six field missions that I have lead from 2008 to 2013 in DR Congo and Cameroon. In DR Congo, I managed the installation of 32 permanent transects of 1 ha, each near the city of Kisangani, to carry out exhaustive tree community inventories. Using data from these inventories, I demonstrated that tree community composition was highly different between habitats characterized by different soil textures, with species displaying various levels of specialization individually (Vleminckx et al. 2015). In Cameroon, I led the establishment of a network of 206 plots of 40 x 50 m, in collaboration with the University of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (Belgium) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium). The data collected during this project allowed me to further demonstrate the (i) role of soil heterogeneity as a major driver of tree species turn-over across different spatial scales (Vleminckx et al. 2017), but also (ii) the substantial impact of past Human disturbances, which has poorly been investigated so far in these ecosystems, especially in central Africa (Vleminckx et al. 2014). 

My PhD researches have pushed me to accumulate a wide range of skills in the most advanced techniques in spatial analyses of ecological data, involving the use of multivariate analyses of large datasets and the development of new statistical methods published in major peer-reviewed journals (Bauman et al. 2018). These competences are the main reasons that motivated renown researchers in my field (Prof Paul Fine at the University of California at Berkeley and Prof Chris Baraloto at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami) to endorse me for my previous postdoctoral researches. I have acquired these competences mostly by myself but also thanks to intensive statistical training with Prof Pierre Legendre (Université de Montréal) at the University of Louvain (Belgium) and during a research collaboration in the laboratory of Prof John Harte at UC Berkeley. 

After my PhD, I was granted a postdoctoral fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation to pursue research in Prof Paul Fine’s lab at UC Berkeley. There I investigated the influence of herbivores in structuring functional and phylogenetic assemblages of Protium (Burseraceae) plant communities in the Amazon (Vleminckx et al. 2018). 


I am now finishing my second postdoctoral research at FIU-Miami, where I have been analysing compositional associations between multiple taxonomic groups – trees, fungi, ants, spiders, earthworms – using data collected in the Amazon basin (article in revision in Nature Ecology and Evolution)

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Research Gate



Forest Trees

Tropical Forest Ecology - Central Africa & Amazon

The exuberant biodiversity and complexity of tropical forests has always been a challenge for ecologists like me who seek to understand the functioning of these ecosystems.

Grass and Sea

Ecological modeling with R

I have been conducting theoretical works to improve methods that are abundantly used in ecology to quantify and test the factors explaining spatial structures in the distribution of organisms in natural communities.

Couple of Penguins

Opel Project Earth Expedition

Participated to the Opel Project Earth Expedition as a scientific consultant and commentator.

Sea Sponges

Field Samplings of Benthic Invertebrates

Participated in field samplings of benthic invertebrates for biodiversity assessment studies in the littoral habitats of north Bretagne (France).

Banana Leaves

Field Inventories

Led the field inventories for his master thesis research, in a tropical forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Yoko forest reserve, nearby Kisangani).

Grass and Flowers

Field surveys of the Ecology and Diversity of the Alpine Flora

Participated in field surveys of the ecology and diversity of the Alpine flora at the “station biologique de Peyresq” (France).

 

Published Work

Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity of Tropical Forests.

Sullivan M., et al. (2019). Science, in revision.

The persistence of carbon in the African forest understory.

Hubau W, et al. (2019).  Nature Plants, 5: 133–140.

Testing and interpreting the shared space-environment fraction in variation partitioning analyses of ecological data.

Bauman D, Vleminckx J, et al. (2019). Oikos, 128(2): 274–285. DOI:10.1111/oik.05496.

Coordinated beta-diversity across five taxonomic groups in Amazonian rainforests.

Vleminckx J, Schimann H, Decaëns T, Fichaux M, Vedel V, Jaouen G, Roy M, Lapied E, Engel J, Dourdain A, Petronelli P, Orivel J & Baraloto C (2019). Scientific Reports, 9: 11337.

The Forest Observation System, building a global reference dataset for remote sensing of forest biomass.

Schepaschenko D, et al. (2019). Scientific Data, 6: 198.

Pan‐tropical prediction of forest structure from the largest trees

Bastin J-F, et al. (2018). Global Ecology and Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/geb.128.

Divergent secondary metabolites and habitat filtering both contribute to tree species coexistence in the Peruvian Amazon.

Vleminckx J, Salazar D, Fortunel C, Mesones I, Davila N, Lokvam J, Beckley K, Baraloto C & Fine PVA (2018). Frontiers in Plant Science. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00836.

Disentangling good from bad practices in the selection of spatial or phylogenetic eigenvectors.

Bauman D, Drouet T, Dray S, & Vleminckx J (2018). Ecography, 41: 1–12.

Field methods for sampling tree height for tropical forest biomass estimation.

Sullivan MJP, et al. (2018). Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12962.

The influence of spatially structured soil properties on tree community assemblages at a landscape scale in the tropical forests of southern Cameroon.

Vleminckx J, Doucet J-L, Morin-Rivat J, Biwolé AB, Bauman D, Fayolle A, Gillet J-F, Daïnou K, Gorel A, Hardy O & Drouet T (2017). Journal of Ecology, 105(2): 354–366.

Fine-Scale Habitats Influence Tree Species Assemblage in a Miombo Forest. Journal of Plant Ecology.

Muledi J, Bauman D, Drouet T, Vleminckx J, Lejoly J, Meerts P & Ngoy Shutcha M (2016). Journal of Plant Ecology. doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtw104.

Taller trees, denser stands and greater biomass in semi-deciduous than in evergreen lowland central African forests.

Fayolle A, Loubota Panzou GJ, Drouet T, Swaine MD, Bauwens S, Biwolé A, Vleminckx J, Doucet J-L & Lejeune P (2016). Forest Ecology and Management, 374, 42-50.

Utilité d’une typologie des exploitants artisanaux de bois pour contribuer à la formulation d’une politique publique en province Orientale (RD Congo).

Tshimpanga O, Lescuyer G, Vleminckx J, Adebu Abdala B & Lokombe D (2016). Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement 20(4) : 468–481.

Impact of fine-scale edaphic heterogeneity on tree species assembly in a central African rainforest.

Vleminckx J, Drouet T, Amani C, Lisingo J, Lejoly J & Hardy OJ (2015). Journal of Vegetation Science, 26(1): 134–144.

High spatial resolution of late-Holocene human activities in the moist forests of Central Africa using soil charcoal and charred botanical remains.

Morin-Rivat J, Biwolé A, Gorel A-P, Vleminckx J, Gillet J-F, Bourland N, Hardy O, Livingstone Smith A, Daïnou K, Dedry L, Doucet J-L & Beeckman H (2016). The Holocene, 26(12), 1954-1967.

Soil Charcoal to Assess the Impacts of Past Human Disturbances on Tropical Forests.

Vleminckx J, Morin-Rivat J, Biwolé AB, Daïnou K, Gillet J-F, Doucet J-L, Drouet T & Hardy OJ (2014). PLoS ONE 9(11): e108121. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108121.

Prevalence of phylogenetic clustering at multiple scales in an African rainforest tree community.

Parmentier I, Réjou-Méchain M, Chave J, Vleminckx J, Thomas DW, Kenfack D, Chuyong GB & Hardy OJ (2014). Journal of Ecology, 102: 1008–1016.

Above-ground biomass and structure of 260 African tropical forests.

Lewis S, et al. (2013). Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0295.

 

Career Details

GRANTS

Belgian American Educational Foundation (2016) – Postdoctoral fellowship 


Systematics Association Biennial conference (2015) – Travel Grant.


National Funds for Science and Research (FRS-FNRS, Belgium) (2010-2014) – PhD fellowship.


University of California, Berkeley (2013) – research collaboration in the laboratory of Prof. John Harte.


Erasmus scholarship (2009) – Training, travel and accommodation costs.

Belgian “Commission Universitaire pour le Développement” (2008) – Travel grant for master thesis field mission.


Erasmus scholarship (2007) – Training, travel and accommodation costs.

AWARDS

Prize for excellence in an ecology dissertation. Université Libre de Bruxelles.

PRESENTATIONS

● Divergent Secondary Metabolites and Habitat Filtering Both Contribute to Tree Species Coexistence in the Peruvian Amazon. July 2017. Annual meeting for the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Merida, Mexico.


● Divergent Secondary Metabolites and Habitat Filtering Both Contribute to Tree Species Coexistence in the Peruvian Amazon. July 2017. European Society for Tropical Ecology (GTÖ), Brussels, Belgium.


● Testing and interpreting the shared space-environment fraction in variation partitioning analyses of ecological data. February 2016. Annual meeting for Plant Ecology and Evolution in Ghent University, Belgium.


● Combining variation partitioning and torus-translations to investigate edaphic determinism on tree community assemblages in tropical forests. August 2015. Systematics Association Biennial, Oxford, UK.


● Soil charcoal to assess the impacts of past human disturbances on tropical forests. July 2014. Annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Cairns, Australia.


● Impact of past human disturbance on species composition in a tropical forest of central Africa. November 2013. Annual meeting of Plant Ecology and Evolution, National Botanic Garden, Belgium.


● Impact of past human disturbance on species composition in a tropical forest of central Africa. June 2013. Annual meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, San José, Costa Rica.


● Anthropogenic impacts on plant diversity in a tropical forest of central Africa. November 2012. Annual meeting of Plant Ecology and Evolution, National Botanic Garden, Belgium.


● Phylogenetic structure of tree communities in a tropical forest of central Africa. September 2012. European Meeting of PhD Students in Evolutionary Biology (EMPSEB), Virrat, Finland.


● Anthropogenic impacts on plant diversity in a tropical forest of central Africa. March 2012. Paleoecology of the forests of Central Africa, Paris, France.


● Impact of edaphic heterogeneity on tree species assembly in a central African rainforest. December 2011. “Young Botanist Day”, Leuven, Belgium.


● Impact of edaphic heterogeneity on tree species assembly in a central African rainforest. March 2011. British Ecological Society (BES) Symposium, Cambridge, UK.


● Factors influencing the organization of tree assemblages in central African tropical forests. March 2009. “Young Botanist Day”, Brussels, Belgium.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

● Seminar class for master students on the ecology of tree species assembly in tropical forests. University of San Francisco (invited by prof. John Paul, USF). September 2017. San Francisco, USA.


● Seminar on the role of natural enemies in shaping Protium (Burseraceae) community assembly in the Peruvian Amazon. May 2016. Department of Biology of Organisms and Ecology, University of Brussels (ULB).


● Supervising the work of a master thesis student, Solène Béroujon.


● Supervised the work of David Bauman, PhD candidate at the University of Brussels, for one of his articles published in a peer-reviewed journal (see Bauman et al. 2018 in the publication list).


● Université Libre de Bruxelles. Mentored and co-supervised undergraduate dissertation project. (2012-2013).


● Mentored three master thesis students for their field work in Cameroon (two students in 2011 and one in 2013)

SOCIETY MEMBERSHIPS

● British Ecological Society, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

● Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

LANGUAGES

French Native, fluent in English, proficient in Spanish and Dutch.

 

Contact Me

Tree Frog
 
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