Professor of Biology
B.S. Biology, University of Missouri (1989)
Ph.D. Zoology, Duke University (1996)
134 Winston Hall
Visit my lab page [link]
Areas of Interest
Community and Population Ecology, Life Histories and Community Structure, Tropical Conservation
My primary interests are community composition and dynamics of Andean and Amazonian tree communities in both space and time. The lab’s current research focuses on combining modern- and paleoecology to understand tree distributions and plant-climate relationships in the Andes and Amazon. The work is focused on the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes and the adjacent Amazonian plain, with a particular emphasis in distributions along environmental gradients, be they in space or time, and includes both empirical work and modeling. Our main study site now is a 3 km altitudinal transect from tree line to the Amazon plain in SE Peru, and we have 16 years of experience in the western Amazon and Andes.
Other studies include experimental work on tree life history and tropical tree community structure, plant-animal interactions and biodiversity maintenance in tropical forests, large-scale analyses of tree species composition in Amazonia, and inverse modeling of climate from plant community composition.
Recent Publications (grad students in bold) (all publications)
CH McMichael, MB Bush, DR Piperno, MR Silman, AR Zimmerman, and C Anderson. 2012. Spatial and temporal scales of pre-Columbian disturbance associated with western Amazonian lakes. Holocene 22:131-141.
CH McMichael, MB Bush, MR Silman, DR Piperno, M Raczka, LC Lobato, M Zimmerman, S Hagen, and M Palace. 2012. Historical fire and bamboo dynamics in western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography.
CH McMichael, DR Piperno, MB Bush, MR Silman, AR Zimmerman, MF Raczka, and LC Lobato. 2012. Sparse Pre-Columbian Human Habitation in Western Amazonia. Science 336:1429-1431.
JM Rappand MR Silman. 2012. Diurnal, seasonal, and altitudinal trends in microclimate across a tropical montane cloud forest. Climate Research 55:17-+.
JM Rapp, MR Silman, JS Clark, CAJ Girardin, D Galiano, and R Tito. 2012. Intra- and interspecific tree growth across a long altitudinal gradient in the Peruvian Andes. Ecology 93:2061-2072.
RM Roman-Cuesta, N Salinas, H Asbjornsen, I Oliveras, V Huaman, Y Gutierrez, L Puelles, J Kala, D Yabar, M Rojas, R Astete, DY Jordan, M Silman, R Mosandl, M Weber, B Stimm, S Gunter, T Knoke, and Y Malhi. 2011. Implications of fires on carbon budgets in Andean cloud montane forest: The importance of peat soils and tree resprouting. Forest Ecology and Management 261:1987-1997.
SS Saatchi, NL Harris, S Brown, M Lefsky, ETA Mitchard, W Salas, BR Zutta, W Buermann, SL Lewis, S Hagen, S Petrova, L White, M Silman, and A Morel. 2011. Benchmark map of forest carbon stocks in tropical regions across three continents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108:9899-9904.
N Salinas, Y Malhi, P Meir, M Silman, RR Cuesta, J Huaman, D Salinas, V Huaman, A Gibaja, M Mamani, and F Farfan. 2011. The sensitivity of tropical leaf litter decomposition to temperature: results from a large-scale leaf translocation experiment along an elevation gradient in Peruvian forests. New Phytologist 189:967-977.
DH Urrego, MB Bush, MR Silman, BA Niccum, P La Rosa, CH McMichael, S Hagen, and M Palace. 2012. Holocene fires, forest stability and human occupation in south-western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography.
DH Urrego, BA Niccum, CF La Drew, MR Silman, and MB Bush. 2011. Fire and drought as drivers of early Holocene tree line changes in the Peruvian Andes. Journal of Quaternary Science 26:28-36.
DH Urrego, MR Silman, A Correaâ Metrio, and MB Bush. 2011. Pollen–vegetation relationships along steep cclimatic gradients in western Amazonia. Journal of Vegetation Science 22:795-806.
KJ Feeley, MR Silman, MB Bush, W Farfan R., K Garcia C., Y Malhi, P Meir, and S Saatchi. 2011. The upward migration of Andean trees in response to increasing temperatures. Journal of Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02444.x
KJ Feeley and MR Silman. 2011. Keep collecting: Accurate species distribution modelling reqires more collections than previously thought. Diversity and Distributions. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00813.x
Y Malhi, MR Silman, N Salinas, M Bush, P Meir, and S Saatchi. 2010. Elevation gradients in the tropics: Laboratories for ecosystem ecology and global change research. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02323.x.
CAL Girardin, D Gurdak, L Aragão, A Rozas-Dávila, W Huasco, W Farfan Rios, C Girardin, MR Silman, D Metcalfe, J Silva-Espejo, N Salinas Revilla, and Y Malhi. 2010. Net primary productivity allocation and cycling of carbon along a tropical forest elevational transect in the Peruvian Andes. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02235.x
KJ Feeley and MR Silman. 2010. The data void in modeling current and future distributions of tropical species. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02239.x
RA Hillyerand MR Silman. 2010. Changes in species interactions across a 3 km elevation gradient: effects on plant migration in response to climate change. Global Change Biologydoi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02268.x
D Urrego, MB Bush, and MR Silman. 2010. A long history of cloud and forest migration from Lake Consuelo, Peru. Quaternary Research 73:364-373
KJ Feeley and MR Silman. 2010. Biotic attrition in the hot tropics accounting for truncated temperature niches. Global Change Biology 16(6):1830–1836. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.02085.x
KJ Feeley and MR Silman. 2010. Land-use and climate change effects on population size and extinction risk of Andean plants. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02197.x
C Meier, J Rapp, R Bowers, MR Silman, and N Fierer. 2010. Fungal growth on a common wood substrate across a tropical elevation gradient: temperature sensitivity, community composition, and potential for above-ground decomposition. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 42(7): 1083-1090. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.03.005
KJ Feeley and MR Silman. 2010. Modelled distributions and responses of Andean & Amazonian plant species to climate change: the effects of geo-referencing errors and the importance of data filtering. Journal of Biogeography 37(4):733-740. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02197.x
M Zimmermann, P Meir, MR Silman, and 15 others. 2009. No differences in soil carbon stocks across the tree line in the Peruvian Andes. Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s10021-009-9300-2, Print 13:62-74
A Gibbon, MR Silman, Y Malhi, JB Fisher, P Meir, M Zimmermann, GC Dargie, W Farfan R, and K Garcia C. 2009. Ecosystem carbon storage across the grassland-forest transition in the high Andes of Manu National Park, Peru. Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-010-9376-8