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Norbert (Nobby) Kunert, Ph.D.

Forest ecologist and plant physiologist
B.S., Dipl. Ing., M.S. and M.S., TU-Munich, Germany; Ph.D., University of Göttingen, Germany; Habilitation, University of Freiburg, Germany

Norbert Kunert is a forest ecophysiologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Conservation Ecology Center and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Center for Tropical Forest Science. Kunert’s research focuses on water and carbon use physiology of trees under a changing climate. In his current work, he aims is to identify key hydraulic, physiological, anatomical and functional traits, and to parameterize those for the use of tree growth models in response to climate change.

Kunert has intensively worked on tree water relations in tropical forest plantations and tropical moist forests in Panama and in the Central Amazon. His recent research highlights the importance of large tree individuals within the hydrological cycle in the Amazonian rainforest. He found that the water cycling can drastically change with anthropogenic forest disturbance and that forest edge effects significantly affect tree transpiration rate. Consequently, disturbed forests are running a higher risk to be water limited during prolonged dry spells.
Kunert earned his Bachelor of Science in forestry at TU-Munich in 2005. He was awarded a diploma in forestry in 2006, a Master of Science in forest and wood science in 2006 and a master's in biology in 2007. He earned a doctorate at the University of Göttingen in 2010. He completed his postdoctoral lecturing qualification and received the VENIA LEGENDI from the University of Freiburg in 2017. Kunert held a postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany from 2010 to 2016. Between 2010 and 2014 he was based in Manaus, Brazil, conducting independent research in the Amazonian tropical lowland forest. He is an associated lecturer at the Institute of Silviculture at the University of Freiburg since 2013.
Kunert is driven by his natural curiosity and loves to share his passion about forest ecology with students. He spent all the time he could spare in the forest as a little boy, and he still tries to spend most of his time in the forest whenever it is possible. He learned very early in his life how important forest is for human well-being, and this motivated him to study forest sciences and to become a forest ecologist. It his special concern to find sustainable ways to use and manage forest ecosystems to preserve their valuable resources and ecosystem services for future generations.
Recent Publications: 

N. Kunert, L.M.T. Aparecido, S. Wolff , N. Higuchi, J. dos Santos, A. Araujo,  and  S.  Trumbore. 2017. A revised hydrological model for the Central Amazon: The importance of emergent canopy trees in the forest water budget. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 239, 47-57.

N. Kunert and J. Edinger. 2015. Xylem sap flux affects conventional stem CO2 efflux measurements in tropical trees. Biotropica, 47 (6), 650-653.

N. Kunert, L. M. T. Aparecido, J. dos Santos, N. Higuchi, and S. Trumbore. 2015. Higher tree transpiration due to road-associated edge effects in a tropical moist lowland forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 213, 183–192.