Changes in leaf functional traits of rainforest canopy trees associated with an El Niño event in Borneo

El Niño events generate periods of relatively low precipitation, low cloud cover and high temperature over the rainforests of Southeast Asia, but their impact on tree physiology remains poorly understood. Here we use remote sensing and functional trait approaches – commonly used to understand plant acclimation to environmental fluctuations – to evaluate rainforest responses toContinue reading “Changes in leaf functional traits of rainforest canopy trees associated with an El Niño event in Borneo”

Using image spectroscopy to study diversity in tropical forests

Tropical forests harbour remarkable density and diversity of woody plants, but how different processes interact to enable so many species to co-exist despite intense competition for resources is yet unresolved. Traditionally, tropical diversity has been studied by establishing field inventory plots, but this is difficult and labour-intensive task, which limits the area that can beContinue reading “Using image spectroscopy to study diversity in tropical forests”

The world’s tallest tropical tree in three dimensions

Here we report the recent discovery of the world’s tallest tropical tree (Shorea faguetiana), possibly the world’s tallest angiosperm (flowering plant), located in the rainforests of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. In addition, we provide a novel three-dimensional exploration of the dimensions of this remarkable tree and use these data to speculate on what drives the limitsContinue reading “The world’s tallest tropical tree in three dimensions”

Mapping tree architecture with lasers

The complexity of tree architecture may be the reason we find trees relaxing but it is hard to account for in ecology. Along with our colleagues from UCL and Wageningen University, we mapped the range of tree architecture using terrestrial laser scanning data. This was done by scanning trees and forests from multiple locations, fittingContinue reading “Mapping tree architecture with lasers”

Forest gain doesn’t stop forest fragmentation in China

Most studies exploring habitat fragmentation effect on biodiversity were conducted at the local or regional level. These studies generally ignored background information (e.g. history, drivers and dynamics) of forest fragmentation which is critical for biodiversity conservation at large scales (e.g. national scale). Hence, these studies provided little practical implications for forest management in fragmented landscapes.Continue reading “Forest gain doesn’t stop forest fragmentation in China”

Forests protect animals and plants against warming

We have quantified the temperature difference between sites within forests and outside, for the first time across the globe. Measurements occurred at 98 locations spread across five continents, in the tropics, temperate zone and northern boreal forests. The data show that the maximum temperature in forests is, on average across the globe, 4 degrees lowerContinue reading “Forests protect animals and plants against warming”

Indirect effects of habitat fragmentation on seed dispersers influence plant community structure

Traditional studies generally consider habitat fragmentation as a driver of downsizing of plant seeds due to the disappearance of large seed dispersing vertebrates. However, most of these studies focuses on old‐growth forests, and much less is known about influences of habitat fragmentation on seed size pattern in patches of regenerating forests. This pattern may differContinue reading “Indirect effects of habitat fragmentation on seed dispersers influence plant community structure”

A critique of general allometry-inspired models for estimating forest carbon density from airborne LiDAR

There is currently much interest in developing general approaches for mapping forest aboveground carbon density using structural information contained in airborne LiDAR data. The most widely utilized model in tropical forests assumes that aboveground carbon density is a compound power function of top of canopy height (a metric easily derived from LiDAR), basal area andContinue reading “A critique of general allometry-inspired models for estimating forest carbon density from airborne LiDAR”

The microclimate mapping challenge

Organisms experience climate at a small scale, where the topography and the vegetation cause microclimates that vary greatly in space and time. The difference in temperature between north and south facing slopes of a mole hill on a hot summer’s day in Europe, for example, is comparable to the temperature difference between the Mediterranean andContinue reading “The microclimate mapping challenge”

Canopy height mapping with drones

We have assessed the quality of three dimensional forest models produced from drone surveys, and conclude that concerns about their quality for canopy height and carbon measurement are unjustified. The rise of drones has been explosive. Rapid advances in technology and decreases in price have resulted in products that can be used off-the-shelf to surveyContinue reading “Canopy height mapping with drones”