Roland de Gouvenain - Forest Ecology Lab - Biology Department
Rhode Island College




Recent and ongoing research projects:


1. Fire ecology of Protea repens (Proteaceae) in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. In collaboration with Dr. Jeremy Midgley and Dr. Cory Merow. Read paper here.

2. Population viability analysis for Lignum-vitae (Guaiacum sanctum) in Costa Rica's Palo Verde National Park. In collaboration with Ulises Balza - Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) - Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Read paper here.

3. Beyond just light: effects of changes in tree leaf litter and litter decomposition along a gap-to-forest cline on eastern white pine, red oak, red maple, white oak, and shagbark hickory regeneration in a southern New England mixed forest. Collaborative research with Dr. Daniel Hewins, Rhode Island Collge, at the Yale-Myers Forest.

4. Dynamics of soil nitrogen and tree growth 18 years after gap creation in a southern New England forest. Collaborative research with Dr. Daniel Hewins, Rhode Island College, at the Yale-Myers Forest.

5. Is serotiny in South African proteas mediated by the energetic support of (or the competition for water from) leaves? In collaboration with Dr. Jeremy Midgley, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town.


Some populations of the serotinous South African shrub Protea repens exhibit
mostly closed cones* (left), while others exhibit mostly open cones (right), revealing
an underlying intraspecific genetic diversity that could enhance the resilience of
P. repens to global environmental changes.
*Although proteas are Angiosperms, the term "cone" is used by South African
botanists to describe a serotinous inflorescence as well as a gymnosperm cone.

FUN FACT Dr. Hewins prepares his soup in the field

Past research projects with RIC students:

1. Southern New England forest trees response to gap creation. Yale-Myers Forest, CT → Kaitlyn Godfrey ('17) investigated whether the architecture of canopy trees responds to the creation of gaps. See link to her
honors thesis and her poster below.

2. Southern New England forest regenaration near gap - a survival analysis. Yale-Myers Forest, CT. → Hector Nunez ('14) investigated whether the regenaration of white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern hemlock
(Tsuga canadensis)
was influenced by the creation of gaps. Read description here. His honors thesis was then expanded to include the seasonal change in forest understory light conditions and its influence on tree regeneration.
Read paper

3. Ecology of desert angiosperms in the Karoo Desert of South Africa. → Eric O'Rourke and Bruno Ramos investigated two groups of angiosperm geophytes and shrubs - see links to their Honors Theses below.


For projects at the Yale-Myers Forest, we thank the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (YSFES), Dr. Mark Ashton and the YSFES research committee for allowing the RIC Forest Ecology Lab to conduct research in the Yale-Myers Forest. We thank the RIC Faculty Research Committee and RI-EPSCoR for financial support.

For projects in South Africa, we thank Dr. John Silander, the University of Connecticut, and the National Science Foundation.

(L. to R.) Eric O'Rourke, Bruno Ramos, Keya Thakkar, and Hector Nuñez at the Yale-Myers Forest (CT), 2014.

Past student research honors theses (in alpha order):

  1. Kaitlyn Godfrey (BS Honors 2017) - poster

  2. Hector Nuñez (BS Honors 2014) - Northeastern Naturalist paper - poster

  3. Bruno Ramos (BS Honors 2014) - poster

  4. Eric O'Rourke (BS Honors 2014)

  5. Kiely Schultz (BS Honors 2009) - poster

  6. Ronald Smith (MA Thesis 2014)

Current research student:
Joshua Barbosa (Spring 2020) is using dendrochronology (the measurement and analysis of annual tree rings in wood) to examine whether the growth of young trees growing in forest gaps at the
Yale Forest (CT) has slowed over the last two decades, possibly linked to a decline in available nitrogen since the opening of the gaps in 2000. Soil N was analyzed in collaboration with Brown University by Danielle
Boucher (Spring 2019).

Past research students at Rhode Island College:
Titilayo Adedeji-Campbell, Audre Armstrong, Danielle Aube, Guyana Avagyan, Danielle Boucher, Heather Boulanger, Ken Calci, Kristen Chauvin, Kaitlin Geagan, Kaitlyn Godfrey,
Jessica Goyette, Hanane Hamdaoui, Jessica Harris, Elizabeth Jardine, Jenifer Loaiza, Victor Martelle, Karlie Morra, Hector Nuņez, Sarah Peixoto, Kiely Schultz, Ronald Smith (MA), Keya Thakkar,
Loudjina Toussaint, Trisha Whipple, Samantha Whitson, Eric Wood.
Eric O'Rourke and Bruno Ramos (undergraduates) both conducted their honors thesis research in South Africa in collaboration with Dr. John Silander Jr. and his lab at the University of Connecticut.
Luke Winn ('17, Environmental Studies), a research student in Dr. Daniel Hewins' lab, contributed to the Forest Ecology Lab research program.

Updated February 2020