Uzay Uğur Sezen

B.S. 1995, M.S. 1998, Department of Biology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

PhD 2007, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut


Contact information:
The University of Connecticut
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 
75 N. Eagleville Road, Unit 3043
Storrs, CT 06269-3043
phone:(860) 486-0805
Fax: (860) 486-6364


Research Interests:

Gene flow, parentage analysis, tropical ecology, population genetics.



Current Research:

Parentage analysis of the canopy palm Iriartea deltoidea in a tropical second-growth forest:  Research conducted with my advisor, Robin L. Chazdon, examines the recolonization of a second-growth forest by an animal dispersed canopy palm tree (Iriartea deltoidea) in Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica.



Me (holding a modified crossbow used for sampling tall canopy tree leaves) and my field assistant Rigoberto G. Vargas posing in front of a downed Iriartea leaf frond for DNA extraction at La Selva Biological Field Station, Costa Rica.
Click here to see a video of sampling from tall palm trees.

Recolonization of tropical second-growth forests:  Despite a long history of international and local efforts old growth tropical forests are still under intense human pressure. Second-growth forests are naturally recovering abandoned fields after complete or near complete logging of old-growth forest vegetation. Today, second-growth forests cover more area than primary forests in many tropical countries and represent the forests of the future. Regeneration of diverse secondary forests requires successful seed dispersal events and we have no accurate information about the sources of seeds colonizing these areas. Parentage analysis on established trees is a powerful tool to reveal patterns of successful seed dispersal events. Reconstruction of parent-offspring relationships with the use of molecular genetic markers can provide accurate information about different phases of recolonization into a young forest stand by analysing distinct demographic classes of founders. Contribution of nearby parents to the gene pool of founder trees in second-growth forest has important implications for restoration/rehabilitation and conservation of such valuable world resource.

My research focus is on parentage analysis of an abundant neo-tropical palm Iriartea deltoidea, to determine patterns of successful seed dispersal into a regenerating second-growth forest in Costa Rica. Iriartea has a high dispersal ability. It has strong association with a suite of animal dispersers including the chestnut mandibled toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii). It also has a very wide geographic distribution from Nicaragua in north to Bolivia in south, from western Amazon basin of Brazil in east to Venezuela in west. It is found along an elevational gradient between lowland and montane rainforest up to 1300m. Palms are structurally and functionally important components of tropical rainforests worldwide and therefore are particularly informative group to understand genetic aspects of recolonization in second-growth forests.

1. Geographic distribution of Iriartea deltoidea.


2. Location of La Selva Biological Field Station at the northern tip of Braulio Carrillo National Park (Heredia province, Costa Rica).  

3. 1977 Aerial photo of my study site just before the abandonement of the land. Red rectangle is 30 ha plot (1 km x 300 m). Shown in yellow is the boundary between old-growth forest and cleared pasture. Black dots are grid tubes of La Selva coordinate system.
4. Map of reproductively mature Iriartea trees in 35 ha study area. I extended the old-growth portion of the study area by 5 ha during the fall 2004. Shown in red are newly sampled trees.

"Genetic consequences of tropical second-growth forest regeneration" Science Vol.307 p.891 (2005)

News about this article:
American Scientist

New Scientist

Voice of America(VoA)

UCONN Advance

ATLAS Magazine, Turkey

Radikal, Turkey

La Nacion Costa Rica

Folha de Sao Paolo Brasil

"Multigenerational genetic analysis of tropical secondary forest regeneration" Ecology Vol.88 pp. 3065-3075 (2007)

A detailed map showing the parentage of founding trees in our study site.

Jungle Mates:
Pablo J. Arroyo
Susan Letcher  
Amanda Wendt  
Vanessa Boukili  


Graduate Committee:

Robin Chazdon - Major Advisor
Kent Holsinger
Chris Simon
Eldridge Adams
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