I am a community ecologist interested in biodiversity loss and its consequences for the stability and functioning of ecosystems and the provision of ecological services. I currently work mainly in grassland and forest ecosystems. I am scientific leader of the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment in Borneo where we examine the impact of enrichment planting on forest regeneration after logging. I am part of the new NERC thematic programme: Human-modified tropical forests, which includes the SAFE project that investigates the effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity. On the grassland side I am part of the Nutrient Network, a global co-operative program to understand how nitrogen enrichment impacts biodiversity in grasslands. I also have a sideline in ecological statistical analysis.
© 2020 The Authors. Global Ecology and Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aim: Palms are an iconic, diverse and often abundant component of tropical ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services. Being monocots, tree palms are evolutionarily, morphologically and physiologically distinct from other trees, and these differences have important consequences for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration and storage) and in terms of responses to climate change. We quantified global patterns of tree palm relative abundance to help improve understanding of tropical forests and reduce uncertainty about these ecosystems under climate change. Location: Tropical and subtropical moist forests. Time period: Current. Major taxa studied: Palms (Arecaceae). Methods: We assembled a pantropical dataset of 2,548 forest plots (covering 1,191 ha) and quantified tree palm (i.e., ≥10 cm diameter at breast height) abundance relative to co-occurring non-palm trees. We compared the relative abundance of tree palms across biogeographical realms and tested for associations with palaeoclimate stability, current climate, edaphic conditions and metrics of forest structure. Results: On average, the relative abundance of tree palms was more than five times larger between Neotropical locations and other biogeographical realms. Tree palms were absent in most locations outside the Neotropics but present in >80% of Neotropical locations. The relative abundance of tree palms was more strongly associated with local conditions (e.g., higher mean annual precipitation, lower soil fertility, shallower water table and lower plot mean wood density) than metrics of long-term climate stability. Life-form diversity also influenced the patterns; palm assemblages outside the Neotropics comprise many non-tree (e.g., climbing) palms. Finally, we show that tree palms can influence estimates of above-ground biomass, but the magnitude and direction of the effect require additional work. Conclusions: Tree palms are not only quintessentially tropical, but they are also overwhelmingly Neotropical. Future work to understand the contributions of tree palms to biomass estimates and carbon cycling will be particularly crucial in Neotropical forests.
Associational resistance to both insect and pathogen damage in mixed forests is modulated by tree neighbour identity and drought
Author Correction: Diversity-dependent temporal divergence of ecosystem functioning in experimental ecosystems.
Nature ecology & evolution
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Individual tree traits shape insect and disease damage on oak in a climate-matching tree diversity experiment.
Ecology and evolution
Diversifying planted forests by increasing genetic and species diversity is often promoted as a method to improve forest resilience to climate change and reduce pest and pathogen damage. In this study, we used a young tree diversity experiment replicated at two sites in the UK to study the impacts of tree diversity and tree provenance (geographic origin) on the oak (Quercus robur) insect herbivore community and a specialist biotrophic pathogen, oak powdery mildew. Local UK, French, and Italian provenances were planted in monocultures, provenance mixtures, and species mixes, allowing us to test whether: (a) local and nonlocal provenances differ in their insect herbivore and pathogen communities, and (b) admixing trees leads to associational effects on insect herbivore and pathogen damage. Tree diversity had variable impacts on foliar organisms across sites and years, suggesting that diversity effects can be highly dependent on environmental context. Provenance identity impacted upon both herbivores and powdery mildew, but we did not find consistent support for the local adaptation hypothesis for any group of organisms studied. Independent of provenance, we found tree vigor traits (shoot length, tree height) and tree apparency (the height of focal trees relative to their surroundings) were consistent positive predictors of powdery mildew and insect herbivory. Synthesis. Our results have implications for understanding the complex interplay between tree identity and diversity in determining pest damage, and show that tree traits, partially influenced by tree genotype, can be important drivers of tree pest and pathogen loads.