The study area comprises a large climate gradient ranging from the mountain dry forest in the west (Laipuna) to the mountain rain forest (TMF) at the eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. In the first phase of RESPECT, we will focus on the TMF in the San Francisco Valley with the ECSF (Estacion Cientifica San Francisco) research station at 1860 m a.s.l as our core facility.
To collect all required data for the LSM and REF approach, RESPECT will rely on a joint plot system in three elevations, including the natural forest and anthropogenic replacement systems. Bombuscaro represents the core plot area in the natural forest at 1000 m a.s.l., ECSF at 2000 m a.s.l. and Cajanuma at 3000 m a.s.l..
The Joint plot system consists of 24 core plots, eight of which are developed as process plots (light green) with additional instrumentation. The black frames indicate plots with canopy
towers in the natural forest warranting canopy and above-canopy access for physiological investigations and eddy covariance measurements. The lower part of the figure shows exemplary
plots for each system and elevation level with the relative contribution of the respective PFTs, and with the selected tree species for one PFT in a forest plot at 3000 m a.s.l.. The sampling strategy per PFT and plot is exemplified for a natural forest plot at 3000 m a.s.l. comprising three different PFTs (PFT 11-13) (bottom right). Four dominating tree species with 4-8 individual replicates each will be sampled per PFT (e.g. for PFT 11) resulting in a total of 12 tree species per plot at 3000 m a.s.l. (5 PFTs at 1000 m a.s.l. and 2000 m a.s.l. resulting in 20 tree species per plot, respectively).