Research interests

I have a broad range of research interests focussed largely but not exclusively on tropical forest ecology. I am currently mainly concerned with the potential effects climate change on the distribution and abundance of tropical organisms. This on-going research involves developing and testing methods for effectively modelling tree species distributions at a regional scale.

My 2001 doctoral thesis entitled “The dynamics of disturbed Mexican Pine Oak Forest: A modelling approach” combined individual based computer modelling at the University of Edinburgh with field research in Chiapas in order to further understanding of the complex successional patterns of highland forests. Some of the main findings have been summarised in a recent book chapter (see publications)

In order to generalise understanding to a wider regional scale I became interested in the use of Geographical Information Systems, image classification and spatial modelling. This led to a productive, ongoing collaboration with my colleague and friend Luis Cayuela, currently employed at the University of Alcala, Madrid.

During the time I have spent in Mexico I have come to understand that ecological research in the tropics has to address many common challenges related to data quality and quantity. A theme to my work has thus been the use of contemporary computer modelling and statistics in order to extract inference from “difficult” data sets. This has led to an interest in the use of Bayesian methods in the search for more robust forms of inference under uncertainty.

I am responsible for a course the use of computer simulation as a research tool at post graduate level. I also gain a great deal of satisfaction from participating in more applied research and courses on Ecological Restoration and Conservation.

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