Estela Quintero Vallejo

Estela is a Colombian plant ecologist. She obtained her BSc in biology in 2001 from University of Antioquia (Colombia) and his MSc in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology in 2008 from The Ohio State University (USA). She has worked with conservation biology and restoration ecology in the Colombian Andean forests. Lately she has taught ecology at the University of Antioquia. Estela has obtained her PhD. from Wageningen University, within the Terra Preta Program, on July 2015.

Short description of PhD thesis

The Amazonian forest, as we know it, is far from being a pristine untouched ecosystem. It is currently telling us the story of ancient civilizations legacy, which made transformations in the ecosystem, particularly through the creation of anthropogenic soils called “terra preta” or Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE). ADE soils are characterized by high amount of organic matter and higher quantity of nutrients in comparison to the generally poor Amazonian soils. After local indigenous extinction, forest recovered in abandoned places producing the old-growth forests that we see today. Nevertheless, the impact of these soils in the composition, structure and dynamic of old-growth forest is still not well known.

Soil plays an important role in the distribution of plants, it acts as an ecological filter that allow species colonize, survive and reproduce. The aim of this study is to evaluate if ADE produce an effect on composition, structure, and dynamic of forest that have growth in these enriched soils. I expect that soils with high nutrients produce differences between ADE and non-ADE on composition of herbs, ferns, palms and trees, mediated by different forest dynamics and traits associated with individual species.

Recent publications

Quintero-Vallejo, E., Klomberg, Y., Bongers, F., Poorter, L., Toledo, M., and Peña-Claros, M. (2015). Amazonian Dark Earth shapes the understory plant community in a Bolivian forest. Biotropica 47: 152-161.

Quintero-Vallejo, E., Peña-Claros, M., Bongers, F., Toledo, M., and Poorter, L. (2015). Effects of Amazonian Dark Earths on growth and leaf nutrient balance of tropical tree seedlings. Plant and Soil 396: 241-255.