Maria Umana Medina
Natalia is a tropical ecologist interested in understanding how plant communities are assembled. To this end, she utilizes field-based and statistical modeling approaches that provide further insights into the processes that govern community structure. Her current research focuses on providing a deeper understanding of one of the classical and still not answered questions in ecology: what are the mechanisms responsible for the incredible number of co-occurring species in tropical forests? Her approach considers information from organismal traits at the individual and species level as well as spatially explicit long-term demographic data, evaluated with statistical models and validated via field-work with a special focus on natural history. As a Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS) postdoctoral fellow, Natalia is linking plant functional trait data with demographic data collected along a rainfall gradient in Panama to better understand how climate shapes tropical plant communities.