Determinants of tropical vegetation structure and function

Scope and Format

Vast areas of the tropics lie within climates that have the potential to support either savanna or forest. Within this climate envelope, the extent to which vegetation is controlled by soils, fire, and climate have been strongly debated in the literature, but to date there has not been any forum dedicated to what seem to be widely contrasting views. It is unfortunate that these divergent interpretations have not been reconciled because future trajectories of vegetation change will depend on which of these factors most strongly regulate vegetation. If soils are a predominant factor, vegetation may be resilient to environmental forcings; if water deficit is predominant, woody cover may increase due to increasing water-use efficiency; if fire is predominant, changes may be largely unpredictable and will depend on strengths of vegetation–fire feedbacks and changing anthropogenic ignitions.


The symposium will take place over three days at the Swiss Spirit Hotel and Suites Alisa, Accra, Ghana. The symposium will be organised into sessions by research topics and there will be dedicated time for discussions, posters, selected poster talks and field trips.