Meet Michelle: Are plant traits correlated with VOC emissions?

I’m Michelle Robin and I am in the first year of a Master’s in Ecology program at the INPA. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and during my undergraduate, I had the opportunity to explore many different fields in biology, from microbiology to herpetology. But plant sciences always fascinated me the most. Fortunately, the university provided me with a great ecological background in all of my projects. This allowed me to grow this sense of curiosity in trying to visualize and understand the patterns behind the organization of life forms. With the help of my supervisors Dr. Juliana Schietti and Dr. Eliane Alves, and the support of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, I’m not pursuing my Master’s degree. I am currently developing a research project that aims to understand whether and how emissions of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) are related to plant traits. Specifically, we want to find out how isoprene and monoterpenes emissions from leaves are correlated with resource allocation strategies. In other words, is there a correlation between how slow or fast tropical tree species grow and their BVOC emissions. Understanding emissions of isoprene and monoterpene from a functional ecology point of view can provide insights into emission patterns. These are still puzzling, especially for isoprene. But understanding these patterns is important. In the future, changes in environmental conditions and disturbance regimes will possibly affect species turnover and composition of Amazon tree communities. Better knowledge may shed light on future patterns of global BVOC fluxes and the consequent impacts in ecosystem-atmosphere dynamics.