Michiel van Breugel

Science (Environmental Studies)

Assistant Professor

Contact No.: +65-6601-3705
Email: michiel.vanbreugel@yale-nus.edu.sg
Website: www.forestecologyandrestoration.org
Website: http://goo.gl/mnMMEU

View Curriculum Vitae

Dr van Breugel received his MSc in Forestry and Nature Management in 1997 and his PhD in 2007, both from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. During his doctoral research, he established a chronosequence of permanent sample plots in secondary forests in southern Mexico, which is now one of the longest-running studies on secondary forest dynamics in the Tropics.

Prior to joining Yale-NUS, Dr van Breugel was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama from 2007-2013. As part of an interdisciplinary project on the ecosystem services provided by tropical forests, he had the unique opportunity to co-lead the design and establish two of the largest long-term field studies of their kind in the Tropics. The first was a secondary forest dynamics (SFD) study in a moist and a dry agricultural landscape with 177 permanent vegetation plots. The second was a 60 hectare reforestation experiment with different combinations of native tree species with contrasting resource acquisition and use strategies. Both offered alternative approaches to quantify and scale the influence of environmental conditions, functional composition, interactions and landscape-scale processes on biodiversity and ecosystem processes and services of ‘new forests’ in human-modified landscapes.

Currently, Dr van Breugel continues to co-lead the secondary forest dynamics study in Panama and takes part in the reforestation experiment. Both studies have generated an increasing number of diverse collaborations with colleagues from different disciplines. He is also involved in other ongoing studies such as one on productivity and water-use efficiency in different tree mixtures, a liana removal experiment and a nutrient addition experiment that seeks to unravel the role of nitrogen fixing trees in tropical forest succession.

Dr van Breugel is in the process of setting up research in East Kalimantan and in Singapore with a range of collaborators.

Dr. van Breugel has a variety of research interests, most of which involve the ecology of forest and trees in human-modified landscapes. He is broadly interested in understanding how human land-use and ecological processes interact to shape plant community dynamics and affect the provision of ecosystem services in and across different landscapes. His work focuses on the mechanisms and processes that determine the capacity of regrowing forests, which now encompass over 50 percent of the world’s tropical forests, to recover from human-caused drivers of ecosystem change. He hopes that his work will provide information for the effective restoration, management and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in transformed landscapes.

Within this framework, Dr. van Breugel uses approaches from community and functional ecology to evaluate the dynamics of plant communities and populations and their drivers. He works with complementary study systems that range from controlled experiments to long-term monitoring of natural succession. Besides these projects, Dr. van Breugel participates in various collaborative studies. One of these combines long-term data on growth, recruitment and mortality in secondary forests from multiple neo-tropical regions. In another collaborative effort, Dr van Breugel is participating in a big liana removal experiment that is established parallel to his long-term secondary forest dynamics study in Panama. In Singapore and East Kalimantan, Dr. van Breugel and his lab collaborate with various researchers and research groups.


Lai, H.R., J.S. Hall, B. Turner & M. van Breugel (2017). Liana effects on biomass dynamics strengthen during secondary forest succession. Ecology 98(4), 1062-1070. doi: 10.1002/ecy.1734.

Muscarella, R., M. Lohbeck, M. Martínez-Ramos, L. Poorter, J.E. Rodríguez-Velázquez, M. van Breugel & F. Bongers (2017). Demographic drivers of functional composition dynamics. Ecology, in press. doi: 10.1002/ecy.1990.

Mayoral, C., M. van Breugel, A. Cerezo & J.S. Hall (2017). Survival and growth of five Neotropical timber species in monocultures and mixtures. Forest Ecology and Management 403: 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.08.002.

Rozendaal, D.M.A. [and 18 others, including M. van Breugel] (2017). Demographic drivers of aboveground biomass dynamics during secondary succession in Neotropical dry and wet forests. Ecosystems 20 (2), 340-353. doi: 10.1007/s10021-016-0029-4.



Caughlin, T.T., S.J. Graves, G.P. Asner, M. van Breugel, J.S. Hall, R.E. Martin, M.S. Ashton, S.A. Bohlman (2016). A single hyperspectral image can accurately predict growth rates of twenty tropical tree species. Ecological Applications 26 (8), 2367-2373. doi: 10.1002/eap.1436

Chazdon, R.L., [and 59 others, including M. van Breugel] (2016). Carbon sequestration potential of second-growth forest regeneration in the Latin American tropics. Science Advances 2: e1501639. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501639.

Poorter, L. [and 64 others, including M. van Breugel] (2016). Biomass resilience of Neotropical secondary forests. Nature 530, 211–214. doi: 10.1038/nature16512

Hall, J.S., E. Lebrija-Trejos, H. Asbjornsen, N. Aguirre, M. van Breugel, Z.C. Berry & M. Martinez-Ramos (2016). Understanding Natural Capital. Part B: Ecosystem Patterns and Processes. In: J.S. Hall et al., Managing Watersheds for Ecosystem Services in the Steepland Neotropics. Inter-American Development Bank and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Pp. 35-46. doi: 10.18235/0000163



Barry, K.E., S. A. Schnitzer, M. van Breugel & J. S. Hall (2015). Rapid Liana Colonization and Community Development along a Secondary Forest Chronosequence. Biotropica, 47(6): 672–680. doi: 10.1111/btp.12259

Craven, D., J.S. Hall, G.P. Berlyn, M.S. Ashton & M. van Breugel (2015). Changing gears during succession: shifting functional strategies in young tropical secondary forests. Oecologia 179: 293-305. doi: 10.1007/s00442-015-3339-x.

Norden, N., H.A. Angarita, F. Bongers, M. Martínez-Ramos, I. Granzow-de la Cerda, M. van Breugel, E. Lebrija-Trejos, J.A. Meave, J. Vandermeer, G.B. Williamson, B. Finegan, R. Mesquita, R.L. Chazdon (2015). Successional dynamics in Neotropical forests are as uncertain as they are predictable. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112: 8013-8018.

Letcher, S.G., [and 55 others, including M. van Breugel] (2015). Environmental gradients and the evolution of successional habitat specialization: a test case with 14 Neotropical forest sites. Journal of Ecology, 103: 1276–1290. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12435.

van Breugel P., R. Kindt, J.-P.B. Lillesø, M. van Breugel (2015). Environmental Gap Analysis to Prioritize Conservation Efforts in Eastern Africa. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0121444.

Falster D.S., (and 95 others, including M. van Breugel] (2015). BAAD: a Biomass And Allometry Database for woody plants. Ecology 96(5): 1445.



Lohbeck, M., L. Poorter, M. Martínez-Ramos, J. Rodriguez-Velázquez, M. van Breugel, F. Bongers (2014). Changing drivers of species dominance during tropical forest succession. Functional Ecology, 28: 1052–1058



Batterman, S.A., L.O. Hedin, M. van Breugel, J. Ransijn, D.J. Craven & J.S. Hall (2013). Key role of symbiotic dinitrogen fixation in tropical forest secondary succession. Nature, 502: 224–227

Van Breugel, M., J.S. Hall, D.J. Craven, M. Bailon, A. Hernandez, M. Abbene, & P. van Breugel (2013). Succession of ephemeral secondary forests and their limited role for the conservation of floristic diversity in a human-modified tropical landscape. PLoS ONE, 8(12): e82433

Zimmermann, B., A. Zimmermann, H.L. Scheckenbach, T.Schmid, J.S. Hall & M. van Breugel (2013). Changes in rainfall interception along a secondary forest succession gradient in lowland Panama. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 17: 4659-4670

Asner, G.P., J. Mascaro, C. Anderson, D.E. Knapp, R.E. Martin, T. Kennedy-Bowdoin, M. van Breugel, S. Davies, J.S. Hall, H.C. Muller-Landau, C. Potvin, W. Sousa, J. Wright and E. Bermingham (2013). Highfidelity national carbon mapping for resource management and REDD+. Carbon Balance and Management 2013, 8:7



Lohbeck, M., L. Poorter, H. Paz, L. Pla, M. van Breugel, M. Martínez-Ramos & F. Bongers (2012). Functional diversity changes during tropical forest succession. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 14 (2): 89-96

Martínez-Ramos, M. [and 54 others, including M. van Breugel] (2012). Manejo de bosques tropicales: bases científicas para la conservación, restauración y aprovechamiento de ecosistemas en paisajes Rurales. Investigación Ambiental Ciencia y Politica Publica 4: 111 – 129.

Letcher, S., R. Chazdon, A. Andrade, F. Bongers, M. van Breugel, B. Finegan, S. Laurance, R. Mesquita, M. Martínez-Ramos & G. Williamson (2012). Phylogenetic community structure during succession: evidence from three Neotropical forest sites. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 14(2): 79-87

Van Breugel, M., P. van Breugel, P. Jansen, M. Martínez-Ramos & F. Bongers (2012). The relative importance of above- versus belowground competition for tree growth during early succession of a tropical moist forest. Plant Ecology 213 (1): 25-34

Asner, G. P. , J. Mascaro, H.C. Muller-Landau, G. Vieilledent, R.Vaudry, M. Rasamoelina, J. Hall & M. van Breugel (2012). A Universal Airborne LiDAR Approach for Tropical Forest Carbon Mapping. Oecologia 168:1147–1160



Van Breugel, M., J. Ransijn, D.J. Craven, F. Bongers & J.S. Hall (2011). Estimating carbon stock in secondary forests: Decisions and uncertainties associated with allometric biomass models. Forest Ecology and Management 262 (8): 1648-1657

Van Breugel, M., J.S. Hall, D.J. Craven, T.G. Gregoire, A. Park, D.H. Dent, M.H. Wishnie, E. Mariscal, J. Deago, D. Ibarra, N. Cedeño & M.S. Ashton (2011). Early growth and survival of 49 tropical tree species across sites differing in soil fertility and rainfall in Panama. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 1580-1589

Visser, M.D., E. Jongejans, M. van Breugel, P.A. Zuidema, Y.-Y. Chen, A. R. Kassim & H.de Kroon (2011). Strict mast fruiting for a tropical dipterocarp tree: A demographic cost-benefit analysis of delayed

reproduction and seed predation. Journal of Ecology 99: 1033–1044

Mascaro, J., G. P. Asner, H.C. Muller-Landau, M. van Breugel, J.S. Hall, & K. Dahlin (2011). Controls over aboveground forest carbon density on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Biogeosciences 8: 1615-1629,

Paul, Gillian S. F. Montagnini, G.P. Berlyn, D.J. Craven, M. van Breugel & J.S. Hall (2011). Comparisons of foliar herbivory and leaf defense traits among native tree species in a young plantation of Central Panama. New Forests, 3: 69-87

Neumann-Cosel, L., B. Zimmermann, J.S. Hall, M.van Breugel & H. Elsenbeer (2011). Soil carbon dynamics under young tropical secondary forests on former pastures—A case study from Panama. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 1625-1633

Hassler, S., B. Zimmermann, M.van Breugel, J.S. Hall & H. Elsenbeer (2011). Recovery of saturated hydraulic conductivity under secondary succession on former pasture in the humid tropics. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 1634-1642

Hall, J.S., B.E. Love, E.J. Garen, J.L. Slusser, K. Saltonstall, S.Mathias, M. van Breugel, D.Ibarra, E.W. Bork, D. Spaner, M.H. Wishnie & M.S. Ashton (2011). Tree plantations on farms: Evaluating growth and potential for success. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 1675-1683



Park, A.D., M. van Breugel, M.S. Ashton, M. Wishnie, E.Mariscal, J.Deago, D. Ibarra, N. Cedeño, & J.S. Hall (2010). Local and regional environmental variation influences the growth of tropical trees in selection trials in the Republic of Panama. Forest Ecology and Management 260: 12-21



Brienen, R.J.W., E. Lebrija-Trejos, M. van Breugel, E.A. Pérez-García, F. Bongers, J.A. Meave & M. Martínez-Ramos (2008) The Potential of tree rings for the study of forest succession in southern Mexico. Biotropica 41: 186-195

Chazdon, R.L., C.A. Harvey, O. Komar, D.M. Griffith, B.G. Ferguson, M. Martínez-Ramos, H. Morales, R. Nigh, L. Soto-Pinto, M. van Breugel & S.M. Philpott (2008). Beyond reserves: A research agenda for conserving biodiversity in human-modified tropical landscapes. Biotropica 41: 142-153

Harvey, C.A., O. Komar, R. Chazdon, B.G. Ferguson, B. Finegan, D.M. Griffith, M. Martínez-Ramos, H. Morales, R. Nigh, L. Soto-Pinto, M. Van Breugel & M. Wishnie (2008). Integrating agricultural landscapes with biodiversity conservation in the Mesoamerican hotspot. Conservation Biology 22: 815

López-Toledo, L., M. Martínez, M. van Breugel & F.J. Sterck (2008). Soil and light effects on the sapling performance of the shade-tolerant species Brosimum alicastrum (Moraceae) in a Mexican tropical rain forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 24: 629–637



Dekker, M., M. van Breugel & F. J. Sterck (2007). Effective height development of four co-occurring species in the gap-phase regeneration of Douglas fir monocultures under nature-oriented conversion. Forest Ecology and Management 238: 189-198, doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2006.10.012

Chazdon, R. L., S. Letcher, M. van Breugel, M. Martínez-Ramos, F. Bongers & B. Finegan (2007). Rates of change in tree communities of secondary Neotropical forests following major disturbances. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 362: 273-289

Van Breugel, M., F. Bongers & M. Martínez-Ramos (2007). Species Dynamics during early secondary forest succession: recruitment, mortality and species turnover. Biotropica 39: 610-619



Van Breugel, M., M. Martínez-Ramos & F. Bongers (2006). Community dynamics during early secondary succession in Mexican tropical rain forests. Journal of Tropical Ecology 22: 663-674



Van Breugel, M. & M. Parren (1997). Forestry in Equatorial Guinea. BOS Newsletter 16: 76 – 83.


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