Linking patterns and processes in tropical forests

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

David Murrell

Genetics, Evolution and Environment, UCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Sofia Olhede

Statistical Science, UCL

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Additional Supervisor(s):

Project Description:

Tropical forests are one of our most cherished natural assets harbouring many of the world’s important biodiversity hotspots. Despite this we know remarkably little about how this richness is regulated and maintained.

This project will combine long-term individual-based data with environmental data and estimates of species-specific traits for over 300species of tree occurring within the same 50ha plot and will answer questions such as: Does tree biodiversity peak at intermediate soil nutrient ratios, as predicted by resource-ratio theory? Can competition between neighbouring trees of different species be adequately described by their traits (eg wood density)? How much are the spatial arrangements of species caused by niche-based (competition, habitat association) and neutral-based (dispersal limitation) processes?

The project will primarily involve analysis of extant data with potentially some modelling; but also has the opportunity for fieldwork where new data is required.

Policy Impact of Research:

The student will be trained in 3 (modelling, numeracy, multidisciplinarity) of the first 4 NERC Most Wanted key skills of the Environment Sector.

This work will also indirectly benefit policies aimed at management, restoration and conservation of forests.


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