Transient Landscape Evolution & Ecosystem Organization on Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo

The role of geomorphic transience in mediating hillslope patterns of canopy traits

I just published a paper with Greg Asner examining how the transient geomorphic responses that watersheds have to changes in erosion pressure alter the organization of canopy foliar traits across Mt. Kinabalu. This work was facilitated though a collaboration between Greg Asner's GAO group and the government of the State of Sabah, Malaysia. I was excited to explore the awesome open source landscape analysis toolkit, LSD TopoTools, developed and maintained by its human masters from the Land Surface Dynamics group at the University of Edinburgh, and it was instrumental to my study. Kudos to them for all their hard work on it!

In addition to my work on the Kinabalu elevation transect, I had the opportunity to organize and conduct field sampling campaigns across the state in support of developing maps of canopy foliar characterisitcs from the airborne surveys that took place in 2016. These maps of foliar characteristics are supporting my work on Mt. Kinabalu as well as several others across the state of Sabah. Check out Elsa Ordway's work on edge dynamics.

Findings & Highlights

December 12, 2019

Presentation: AGU Fall Meeting

I presented an update on my findings that landscape transience exerts control on foliar trait distributions within catchments, across elevation and substrate gradients, on Mt. Kinabalu. I was glad to be part of this great session on tropical mountains organized by Tom Giambelluca and Han Tseng.

August 16, 2018

Presentation: Goldschmidt2018

I gave a talk on the promise of utilizing remotely sensed foliar characteristics to understand landscape-scale critical zone processes, drawing on findings from my work in the Peruvian Amazon and on Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo.

August 7, 2018

Presentation: Ecological Society of America

I was invited to present preliminary results from the work on Mt. Kinabalu at the Ecological Society of America in New Orleans. This was a great session, "Cutting-Edge Remote Sensing Applications in Ecology: Spanning Scales, Sensors, and Ecosystems", put on by Jeff Atkins and Kyla Dahlin.

January 23, 2018

Paper: Foliar Trait Mapping Across Sabah, Malaysia

Our paper utilizing partial least squares regression to predict crown-level foliar characteristics across the state or Sabah, Malaysia has been published in Remote Sensing. I had the opportunity to work with an amazing field crew to collect samples for this effort and am now utilizing these maps to explore ecosystem organization on Mt. Kinabalu.


Study Areas

The primary focus of my work in Sabah is on the complex terrain across the elevation gradient in Kinabalu Park. The forests span from 700 m to treeline, at over 3000 m. In addition, there are multiple rock types that occur along the elevation gradient, making it an interesting location to study the interactions of climate, geochemistry, and landscape transience.

In addition to working at Kinabalu Park, we also conducted canopy foliar sampling at Danum Valley Field Center, Danau Girang Field Center, and the Sepilok Forest Reserve.


I received immeasurable help from Unding Jami and his team of tree climbers, Sukaibin Sumail, Ica Karolus, and Nadia Gawa.