Photo of Grizelle Gonzalez

Grizelle Gonzalez

Project Leader - Research Ecologist
International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Jardin Botanico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba
1201 Ceiba St.
San Juan, PR 00926
Phone: 787-764-7800
Fax: 787-766-6302

Current Research

Soil ecology, biology and biogeochemistry

Research Interests

Soils, decay, nutrient cycling, soil organisms

Past Research

Earthworm ecology, soil biology and biogeochemistry


Ph.D. in Soil ecology and biology. Dissertation: Soil fauna, microbes and plant litter decomposition in tropical and subalpine forests. , 1999
Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic (EPO) Biology, University of Colorado-Boulder
M.Sc. in Soil ecology. Thesis: Earthworm abundance and distribution pattern in two plant communities within a subtropical wet forest of Puerto Rico. , 1996
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico
B.S. in Biology, 1993
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico

Professional Experience

Project Leader, R&D unit, US Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Associated Faculty, Univesity of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras Campus, Dept. of Environmental Sciences
Adjunct Faculty, University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras Campus, Department of Biology
Director, Sabana Field Research Station, US Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Research Ecologist, USFS International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Research Associate, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Professional Organizations

  • National Inventory Monitoring and Assessment Steering Committee of USFS NFS, Member (2014—Current)
  • Special Working Group, Conservation Areas In PR, Member (2014—Current)
  • Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory, Co-Principal Investigator (2013—Current)
  • El Yunque National Forest Management Plan, Interdisciplinary Team, Science Advisor And Member (2012—Current)
  • Luquillo Long Term Ecological Research, Co-Principal Investigator (2010—Current)
  • Albuquerque Service Center Operations Customer Service Board, Usfs National R&D Project Leader Representative (2012—2016)
  • International Scholarly Research Network-Soil Science, Editorial Board Member (2011—2011)

Awards and Recognition

Best 2014 Collective Exhibition in Puerto Rico by the International Association of Art Critics, 2015
Poetic Science, a collaborative arts and science exhibit celebrating the 50th Anniv of the Wilderness Act and El Toro Wilderness in EYNF, was awarded AICA, based in Paris and affiliated to UNESCO.
US Forest Service Wilderness Legacy Award 2014, 2014
For dedication and contributions to Wilderness Stewardship, El Toro Wilderness, EYNF, Puerto Rico
Supervisor of the Year, 2009
In appreciation to outstanding commitment to USFS IITF Volunteer Program

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

A 42 year inference of cloud base height trends in the Luquillo Mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico (2018)
IITF-2018-36 Cloud base altitude has been found to be increasing in the late rainfall season at the Luquillo Mountains

A Canopy Trimming Experiment in Puerto Rico: the response of litter invertebrate communities to canopy loss and debris deposition in a tropical forest subject to hurricanes (2010)
IITF-2010-010 Insects and other invertebrates in leaf litter are important components in decomposition, nutrient cycling, and food webs. As part of larger study to look at the effects of hurricane disturbance on tropical forests, Forest Service scientists and Long Term Ecological Research collaborators installed a canopy trimming experiment (CTE) in El Yunque National Forest.

A Global Meta-Analysis of Earthworm Regulation of Plant Litter Decay and Soil Organic Carbon (2020)
IITF-2020-8 The effect of earthworms on litter and soil organic carbon (SOC) decay depends strongly on earthworm functional groups and diversity. High diversity of earthworm functional groups accelerates litter mass loss and SOC decay.

Assessing Litterfall Trap Bias (2012)
IITF-2012-01 Are traps preferentially representing certain kinds of leaf litter

Climate space for fire occurrence and extent in Puerto Rico (2018)
IITF-2018-42 The cumulative effect of small frequent fires found in the Caribbean can shape large landscapes. Relationships between weather patterns and the likelihood of these fires can help understand the implications of climate change

Ecological Gradient Analyses in Tropical Ecosystems (2013)
IITF-2013-026 Forest Service scientists recently published a book that contains a comprehensive analysis of ecological gradients in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico.� These original and synthetic research findings should be of considerable interest to all concerned with understanding the importance of environmental gradients in molding the structure and functioning of ecological systems.

Ecology of soil arthropod fauna in tropical forests: A review of studies from Puerto Rico (2018)
IITF-2018-54 A significant number of ecological investigations have focused on the characterization of the edaphic fauna, and how they influence ecosystem processes in forested sites

El Yunque National Forest Atlas release (2018)
IITF-2018-9 Publication of an atlas about El Yunque National Forest, a collaboration between the International Institute of Tropical Forestry and El Yunque National Forest.

Geographic, Environmental, and Biotic Sources of Variation in the Nutrient Relations of Tropical Montane Forests (2016)
IITF-2016-19 Incorporating other geographic, environmental and biotic variables in tropical montane forests biogeochemistry, might give scientists a more accurate picture of plant-soil feedbacks, forest productivity, and soil carbon storage.

Integrating Research, Education, and Traditional Knowledge in Ecology (2011)
IITF-2011-03 Integrating research and education is a fundamental goal of research institutions and agencies but specific approaches not widely published in environmental research journals. In this study, Forest Service scientists documented the costs and benefits to the public of engaging researchers, university students and Inuit youth and elders in field studies in the Arctic.

New Species of Collembola Discovered in The Luquillo Experimental Forest in Puerto Rico (2020)
IITF-2020-11 New records and described species of Collembola in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) have been identified with the objective to improve the knowledge of soil and litter fauna through the altitudinal gradient in northeastern Puerto Rico.

Physical, Chemical, and Biological Properties of Soil Under Decaying Wood in a Tropical Wet Forest in Puerto Rico (2016)
IITF-2016-18 Decaying wood is related to nutrient cycling through its role as either a sink or source of nutrients; however, at micro scales, what is the effect of decaying logs on the physical, chemical, and biotic characteristics of the soil underneath?

Post-hurricane Canopy Openings Influence Ecosystem Processes in a Tropical Rainforest (2015)
IITF-2015-84 Forest Service researchers collaborated with external scientists to examine the effects of hurricane disturbance on tropical forest ecosystems. They found that one of the most important drivers of forest change is the opening of canopies due to wind damage, with added debris playing a relatively smaller role through the supplement of carbon and nutrients.

Responses of Two Litter-Based Invertebrate Communities to Changes in Canopy Cover in a Forest Subject to Hurricanes (2018)
IITF-2018-57 Changes in canopy cover due to hurricane impact play an important role in determining litter invertebrate community

Scientists Characterize Woody Debris to Assess Fuel Loads in Northeastern Puerto Rico (2013)
IITF-2013-025 Forest Service scientists characterized the amounts of woody debris (coarse woody debris, fine woody debris, duff, and litter) for eight different forest types along the elevation gradient in Northeastern Puerto Rico. Data generated by this survey contributes to development and improvement of existing woody debris management plans, addressing increased fire risk in Northeastern Puerto Rico.

The Future of Scientific Knowledge and Management Approaches to Tropical Forests in the Anthropocene Epoch (2019)
IITF-2019-33 A special issue of Forests augments a quarter century of scientific knowledge and capitalizes on a unique set of synergies chartered by a strategy based on shared stewardship, innovative transdisciplinary collaborations, and breakthroughs in science and technology.

The Role of Millipedes in Tropical Ecosystems (2012)
IITF-2012-04 The direct and indirect effects on litter of varying lignin content

Understanding Tropical Forest Abiotic Response to Hurricanes using Experimental Manipulations, Field Observations, and Satellite Data (2020)
IITF-2020-10 The cycle of hurricane disturbance to forests was studied, from initial forest response to recovery. To better understand the driving forces of the ecosystem changes, abiotic inputs to the forest environment under the canopy such as light, moisture, and temperature were measured.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources