Monica Mejia Chang
2003-present: PhD student. University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences, Physiological Ecology group.
1997-2000. Master of Science Degree. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Botany.
1989-1996. Licenciatura en Biología, Especialización en Botánica. Universidad de Panamá.
I am interested on the impact of habitat disturbance on plant diversity and function in tropical forests. I utilise a physiological and ecological approach to evaluate the interaction between plants and the atmosphere, in a range of climatic conditions.
- Howard Griffiths, Cambridge
- Klaus Winter, Panama
My research project utilises epiphytic Bromeliads, as sensitive markers of environmental conditions along an altitudinal gradient at both sides of the Central Cordillera in western Panama. Species with distinct natural distributions, and different metabolic pathways (C3 and CAM), have been targeted to investigate the physiological bases for niche differentiation along this gradient.
Crucial to my study is the use of stable isotopes as long-term integrators of the interaction of plants and their environment, and as tracers of seasonal and spatial variation in water sources for epiphytic plants. Oxygen isotopes in water provide a source signature related to altitude or seasonality in precipitation, as well as a marker, once taken up by plants, for the degree of evapotranspiration or environmental stress.
I have defined a temporal as well as spatial isotope profile for rain water, leaf water as well as water accumulated in Bromeliad rosettes. Currently, I am undertaking laboratory measurements on the relationship between tank water and atmospheric water vapour as determinants of C3 and CAM final isotopic composition. Such a component of my project is crucial to test the latest models on plant water movement under high relative humidity conditions.
Funding bodies/related webpages
- British Council, UK (http://www.britishcouncil.org/home)
- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (http://www.stri.org/)
- Fortuna Field Station