This is my first time attending the European Conference of Tropical Ecology and my second visit to Germany. The conference attracted c. 350 delegates; big enough to have plenty of interesting science, and yet small enough to find everyone you wanted to. The keynote speakers chosen to head the days provided some exciting insights into various new developments across the tropics, including: the importance of biogeography (Richard Corlett), metabolism and carbon cycles (Yadvinder Malhi), diversity and resilience (Lourens Poorter), tropical peatlands (Sue Page), agricultural landscapes (Ravi Prabhu), and mutualism of figs and fig wasps (Martine Hossaert-McKay).
From the many other interesting talks five in particular grabbed my attention, these were:
- Achim Brauning (University Erlangen-Nurnberg): showing that tree ring size varies on periodicities similar to the El Nino Southern Oscillation in southern Ecuador.
- Christina Ani Setyaaningsih (University Goettingen): showing it takes 900 years for forests in Sumatra to recover from deposition of volcanic tephra.
- Freddie Draper (University of Leeds): investigating relatively unexplored wetlands in western Amazonia, and finding that they contain five different vegetation communities, including species poor peat forests.
- Kartika Hapsari (University Goettingen): presenting great cartoon visualisation of landscape/vegetation development from a 13,000 year sequence from Indonesia.
- Maximillian Weigend (University of Bonn): highlighting the shortcomings of floristic checklists and data stored within GBIF (unreliable taxonomy and georeferenceing) and the consequent dangers for meta-analysis.
Add to the talks, exciting coffee time snacks, a tropical music quiz, and dancing until 2 am (for some) after the conference dinner, and you have the formula for an excellent conference. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the next conference organised by the Society for Tropical Ecology.