Towards the end of the workshop I had a chance to go out on Greg Asner's new dive boat and dive the reefs off Kawaihae, in the north-west of the Big Island.
The reefs were spectacular, a magical underwater world. As well as being a reknowned tropical forest ecologist, Greg is a very accomplished dive photographer. See http://www.divephoto.org/
After the field visit to Australia I headed east (crossing the International Date Line for the first time and experiencing a 48 hour Saturday) to the annual conference of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation in Hawai'i. This gathering of tropical biologists is my treat meeting of the year - the only big meeting I regularly attend and a chance to learn about the various corners and perspectives if tropical biology and conservation. This year's location in far off Hawai'i meant it was smaller than usual (around 500 people) but still packed with excellent science and interaction.
After the conference in Honolulu around 15 of us attended a workshop in Hilo on the Big Island, focussed on progress on our work from the Andes transect in Peru. This is one of a series of workshops we have been holding every other year or so, a chance to get together and brainstorm science from this immensely productive project. In particular we are at a critical stage in analysis of our traits data from the CHAMBASA project, with a large number of papers due for late this year. We were hosted by Greg Asner and Robin Martin for the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford.
A few weeks ago I visited our plant traits field campaign in Queensland, Australia, at the amazing Daintree Research Observatory. Our team is conducting a three month campaign collecting leaf and wood samples of the dominant trees in 10 one hectare plots ranging from sea level to 1500 m.
The project is part of the ERC-funded T-FORCES programme.
Two weeks ago we had a thought-provoking seminar by Clive Hamilton on the definition of the Anthropocene, followed by a panel discussion on the meaning of the Anthropocene with Myles Allen. Paul Jepson, Tom Thornton and Jamie Lorimer bringing in perspectives from climate science, conservation policy, anthropology and human geography. Clive's basic argument was that the Anthropocene is defined by its substantial impacts on the Earth System functioning as a whole, something that many arguments about the nature and start of the Anthropocene fail to capture. It was a stimulating talk and discussion, brimming with ideas and fresh and contested perspectives.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University