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Pterocarpus officinalis at Luquillo Experimental Forest

Tamara Heartsill Scalley

Research Ecologist
U.S. Forest Service - IITF, Jardin Botanico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba
Rio Piedras
Puerto Rico
United States

Fax: 787-766-6302
Contact Tamara Heartsill Scalley

Research Interests

Ecology of tropical forests, with a focus on community composition responses to disturbance and long-term dynamics of permanent forest plots in the Caribbean.  Study interests also include coastal and montane wetlands, riparian zones, stream exports and aquatic fauna in headwater catchments and streams.


  • Utah State University, Logan, Ph.D. Ecology 2005
  • University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras , M.S. Biology 2000
  • University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras , B.A. Geography 1994

Professional Experience

  • Detail, Natural Infrastructure for Caribbean Resilience (NICaR) Program, USDA Forest Service, International Programs, Office of the Chief
    2021 - 2021
  • Post Doctoral Research Faculty, University of Pennsylvania, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences
    2005 - 2008

Professional Organizations

  • American Fisheries Society (2019 - Current)
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (2018 - Current)
  • Society of Wetland Scientists (2017 - Current)
  • Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (1998 - Current)
  • Ecological Society of America (1998 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • National Wilderness Awards, 2017
    Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Research Award
  • USDA Forest Service Wilderness Legacy Award , 2014
    Awarded for dedication and contributions to Wilderness Stewardship. Received for leading and coordinating activities commemorating the Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary.
  • USDA Forest Service Chief’s Award, 2013
    Open Space Conservation. For The Greater Northeast Reserve, A Collaborative Journey for the Conservation of 11,000 acres of Open Space, with a team from International Institute of Tropical Forestry and El Yunque National Forest, Region 8.

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


A Caribbean Foresters Collaborative Network for Understanding Regional Forest Dynamics

The role of Caribbean forestry research in permanent plots has been identified as both a previously untapped regional source for capacity buildi ...


A Systemic Review of More Than 100 years of Published Research on Hurricanes and Forests in Puerto Rico Presents What Sites and Types of Studies Have Contributed the Most to Our Current Knowledge.

The vast majority of knowledge about hurricanes and forests comes from very wet and humid areas, while dry coastal locations have been less stud ...


BIOFRAG: A New Database for Analyzing Biodiversity Responses to Forest Fragmentation

A collaboration among more than 50 scientists from international institutions produced a database that contributes to understanding biodiveristy ...


Challenges to Riparian Function in a Tropical, Urban Stream Network

Limited connectivity of riparian areas, pluvial drainages, and highly modified stream channels affect hydrological function of green spaces in u ...


Changes in Structure, Composition, and Nutrients During 15 years of Hurricane-Induced Succession in a Subtropical Wet Forest in Puerto Rico

Quantifying the impacts and recovery of forest resources to hurricanes and multiple disturbances is essential to managing forests in hurricane-p ...


Dams slow decomposition of leaf detritus by eliminating shrimp.

Forest Service sponsored research with the University of Georgia found that the absence of shrimp causes drastic changes to stream ecosystems.


Forested Coastal Wetland Displacement in the 21st Century Driven by Saltwater Intrusion as Consequence of Rising Sea-level

Coastal wetlands are facing challenges to their persistence due to accelerated sea-level rise, limited and fragmented coastal lands for migratio ...


Hurricanes Disturb Non-tree Subtropical Wet Forest Species Composition

Hurricane disturbance caused pronounced and persistent changes in the non-tree species composition of a subtropical wet forest. A unique long-te ...


Land-cover Composition, Water Resources and Land Management in the Watersheds of the Luquillo Mountains, Northeastern Puerto Rico

An important element for wise use of water-related ecosystem services is understanding land-cover composition and its relation to water resource ...


Novelty in Tropical Forests

Identifying interventions that help reduce ecosystem service tradeoffs in novel forests can contribute towards resilient social-ecological techn ...


Post-Hurricane Effects Under the Canopy

Forest managers benefit from knowledge about species composition, biomass, and %cover in understory vegetation among ridges, slopes and valleys ...


Riparian Vegetation Restoration in Light of Succession; Management Implications for Restoration in Tropical Secondary Forests

There is a wide variety of approaches on how to determine when a river restoration project can be considered ecologically successful. The limite ...


Seasonality and Forest Succession in Tropical Watersheds Affects Stream Export

Continuous export of organic matter from mountain streams depends on forested headwaters contributing leaf litter of varied quantity and quality ...


Wild and Scenic Rivers: their contributions to aquatic species conservation and opportunities for improvement

Wild and Scenic Rivers are designated to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing c ...


Last updated on : 01/13/2022