My research is focused on understanding the factors causing monodominant patches
of the ectomycorrhizal tree Oreomunnea mexicana (Juglandaceae) in a montane forest in Panama (Fortuna Forest Reserve).
Several factors are proposed to promote monodominance in forest communities, including features of the environment such as
low disturbance rates and intrinsic characteristics of the dominant species -- such as escape from herbivores, high seedling
shade-tolerance, and the type of mycorrhizal association formed by the species. One hypothesis proposed to explain the link
between mondominance and ectomycorrhizal associations is the presence of a positive plant-soil feedback. Positive feedback
could increase the performance of nearby seedlings by favoring the proliferation of beneficial mycorrhizas and the creation of
ectomycorrhizal networks (EMN). Since O. mexicana has ectomycorrhizal associations, the main questions of my research are:
Do those EM fungi create EMN that connect seedlings with established individuals, thereby facilitating the transfer of nutrients
and carbon to the seedlings? (2) Does this transfer of carbon and nutrients increase the growth and survival of seedlings
(which may drive monodominance)? .