News and Events

10 January 2022


 A very exciting start to 2022. Many congratulations Yadvinder!


Leverhulme Trust awards £10 million to new Oxford nature recovery centre

A new £10 million Oxford-based Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery has today [10 Jan] been announced - one of three UK centres established with a hotly-contested Leverhulme Trust 2021 award. On top of the 10-year Leverhulme funding, the centre, led by Oxford Professor Yadvinder Malhi, will receive £5 million in co-funding from the University of Oxford, which will support fundamental cross-disciplinary research.

The Oxford centre will undertake research that aims to help halt and reverse the ongoing loss and degradation of nature and its biodiversity – and so is very much in line with the Leverhulme Trust’s invitation to be bold with a bid that could transform understanding of an important topic.

Planting a Tree

03 December 2021

Many congratulations to Allie Shenkin for his new Assistant Research Professor position at Northern Arizona University! Allies has been part of the lab for almost a decade and his great work and sense of humour has been greatly appreciated and will be missed.
All the best for the future and of course, we hope to see you again soon.

Flying a Drone


June 2021 News   


This week's reading group is on Thursday at 4pm and will discuss the recent paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution  Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology Authors  Chris Trisos, Jess Auerbach and Madhu Katti will be there Guests are welcome at reading group.   

Takeshi Inagawa "Nutrient cycling of Bornean tropical forests"

Welcome back Takeshi, he has been working in Honduras on biodiversity before returning to his DPhil.   He completed his DPhil fieldwork in Malaysian Borneo.   There are few direct studies of nutrient dynamics in tropical forests.  It requires not only the measurement ~
of nutrient stoichometry and stocks but also of NPP.

Takeshi used 9 plots, 5 of which were logged plots at the SAFE project, 2 old growth in Mallau, 2 old growth in Lambir.   He took over 500 samples, of branches, fresh leaves, leaf litter and fine roots. He did lab analysis in the Sabah forest research centre.

His research has investigated what are the rates of leaf nutrient resorption, and how do they vary along a logging disturbance gradient and among plots.  Also how much do they contribute to plant nutrient requirement?  
How do nutrient requirement, uptake and use efficiency vary along a logging disturbance gradient?  
How does the requirements for nutrients vary among organs, leaf, wood and fine root, in ecosystems, and how is the total requirement and soil uptake for new nutrients partitioned between organs?  He worked with many South East Asian dipterocarps, tropical outliers, as other tropical families and tropical regions are AMF

Some wood resorption in his results may be specific to dipterocarp family. Bark is nutrient rich, nutrient concentrations are greater than heart wood depending on the nutrient.    

Soil availability is a weak predictor of NPP.   For N and Mg, there is scant evidence of limitation


For P K and Ca there is evidence of shifting strategies under limitation with clear evidence for thresholds below which compensation strategies were invoked.   

Let's move from a static view of nutrients to thinking more about flows, using a dynamic approach.   


Nikki is currently in South Africa, about to begin fieldwork in Kruger.    



May 2021 News

Congratulations to Erika who has had a paper accepted on the impacts of drought and fire on tree mortality and the traits driving this.


Congratulations also to Cecile Girardin who has a new NBS paper in Nature coming out on Thursday including maps, co-authored with Yadvinder, Miles, Natalie Seddon, Simon Lewis and others.    


An upcoming meeting with ECI will discuss the building refurbishment and new lab plans, Jesus has kindly agreed to be the lab rep for this, please feel free to offer him your ideas and input if you would like.


A Greenham Common lab trip is likely in June.  So too hopefully a camping trip to Devon and its ancient woodland.   


Trish highlighted the upcoming Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN) seminars


Policy Engagement for Biodiversity seminar series, Trinity Term 2021 

All welcome.   Share experience on how academics can better engage with policy for biodiversity.  Featuring discussions with academic panellists that have experience working with and contributing to policy.


Wednesday 19th May 2021, 10-11am, Engaging with local and national biodiversity policy 

Dr. Pam Berry, Senior Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute 

Dr. Alison Smith, Senior Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute 

Maria Dance, D.Phil. Student, School of Geography and the Environment 


Wednesday 26th May 2021, 10-11am, Engaging with international biodiversity policy 

Professor Sandra Díaz, Córdoba National University and Co-Chair of IPBES Global Assessment 

Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland, Department of Zoology 

Dr. Mohammad Farhadinia, Researcher, Oxford Martin School

Dr. Mark Hirons, School of Geography and the Environment


Wednesday 2nd June 2021, 10-11am, The future of policy engagement for biodiversity 

Professor Laura Rival, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography 

Dr. Prue Addison, Department of Zoology and Conservation Strategy Director for the Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust 

Dr. Jasper Montana, Research Fellow, School of Geography and the Environment


Booking is possible for all three seminars here: 


Trish is taking part in the Young Scientists Summer Program 2021  this summer and as the program is virtual she will be based in Oxford.


Trish recommended the artists in residence programme run by The Art, Biodiversity and Climate Network which invites labs and research groups, interested in showcasing their research in the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow, to team up with Ruskin School of Art artists to bring research to life, communicating research in an accessible way to large audiences.

April 2021 News


Nicola Stevens has a new paper published in Ecology and Evolution:  What shapes the range edge of a dominant African savanna tree, Colophospermum mopane? A demographic approach.


The Martin School 3 year programme on nature and society is launching soon, with plans for Oxfordshire nature restoration projects.    


The survey on returning to work in the department has been circulated with a deadline of 12 April.   

September is the default month to go back into the department, but it may be possible for some to return from April if you would like to sooner.


This week Reading Group is at 4pm this Thursday and will discuss the paper by Terrer et al - A trade-off between plant and soil carbon storage under elevated CO2



Presentation by Nikos Fyllas - “Estimating carbon fluxes along a Mediterranean pine forest post-fire chronosequence”


Nikos is based at the University of the Aegean in Greece.  He has set up plots on the island of Lesvos, and has 2 years of data. Mediterranean forests are not a large biome compared to others, and there are few studies in this region. Currently Mediterranean forests act as a carbon sink, however the dry period is increasing, so we do not know if that will change.  Nikos runs 4 main Lesvos Pine Forest permanent monitoring plots at 750m above sea level.  These are home to the pinus brutia species, along a post-fire chronosequence gradient, at 15 years, 40 years, 70 years and 90 years old.  Here, Nikos and his team measure tree dbh, H, canopy area, and soil respiration and litter fall on a monthly basis. They also measure leaf traits, LA, LMA etc. They record litter decomposition and regeneration. They use branch fall transects 1 x 30 m and litter fall traps that are 0.5 x 0.5m.  There are now 2 census, and the team use tree core data from trees outside the plots. Long term growth is assessed through tree cores. The plots all have a very similar climate profile, a similar length of dry period, and only a couple of tree species in the plots.   Nikos and his team make biometric data profiles.

Lab meeting on Tuesday 20 April 2021 at 1pm - presentation by Laura Picot "Discussion on Code of Conduct for anti-racist and ethical fieldwork".   

Tuesday 27 April 2021 at 1pm  -  presentation by Ache "Exploring evidence of pollination limitation of cacao in Western Ghana".  

Tuesday 4 May 2021 at 1pm  - presentation by Nikki "Browsing is a strong filter for savanna tree seedlings in their first growing season".  


March 2021 News

Many congratulations to Walter on having his first thesis chapter accepted by Global Change Biology.   "Fine root dynamics across pantropical rainforest ecosystems"


Trish has been selected for the Young Scientists Summer Program 2021  at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria.   She will be working on spatial optimization of ecosystem services from reforestation in India.  This year the program is virtual and she will be based in Oxford.


Trish and Tina are working on a restoration symposium proposal for ATBC, they welcome others to join, please retweet their call out on this.  


Jesus has paper accepted in Science Advances showing how high income countries strongly depend on essential ecosystem services such as insect pollination coming from low income countries.    The paper showcases a tool to visualise the “virtual pollination flow”


Allie's student in Wageningen has had a paper accepted, primarily methods, analysing crown shyness from a 3D perspective


Terhi and colleagues had a paper on lidar and drought in SE Asia out in Nature Communications last week

Reading group.  

This week’s reading group is at 10am on Thursday 18 March and will debate:

Leaf economics and plant hydraulics drive leaf : wood area ratios

 The lead author Maurizio will join.


Presentation today by Cecilia Dahlsjo:    NERC ASH DIEBACK PROJECT: 1st Year Update


This large, exciting interdisciplinary NERC 4 year project has been going for a year now, with collaborators interacting across 6 institutions.    

Ash is the third most abundant species in the UK.  Ash dieback is a fungal disease that arrived in Europe probably through the timber trade.  It was first detected in Poland, and then in the UK in 2012.      Brown lesions on leaves are the first signs of the disease, it starts in the canopy, then the fungus also creates lesions in the wood, which weakens the wood and can kill it.   Pathogens can get in as the tree becomes more vulnerable.    As ash die back affects leaves, it can create canopy gaps, which may lead to different levels of light penetration.    Ash dieback in Wytham was detected in 2017.    Mortality rates are very high, up to 90% within a decade, mainly the younger trees are affected, which has an effect on regeneration.    

113.5 millions ash trees are at risk.    0.4% of ash trees are expected to perish from ash dieback.


Cecilia is leading a project to examine the multitrophic impact of ash dieback in Wytham.  Cecilia is working at 15 plots in Wytham across 5 locations with 3 habitats, in areas with no ash, with high ash and with low ash which are often sycamore dominated.   She is ring barking 300 ash trees to accelerate ash dieback.

Key questions of the project are - how is biogeochemical cycling altered due to ash dieback?  What is the subsequent effect on ecosystem functioning and species diversity?

Litter fauna abundance, soil respiration and SOM turnover rates, tree mortality, tree NPP and biomass, litter nutrient supply, and leaf litter decay rates will all be closely analysed.   Cecilia uses soil moisture and temp probes, and records rainfall.   

She will examine how ash die back impacts on habitat structure and whether it affects predator prey dynamics.    She will assess if ash die back affects the spatial heterogeneity and connectivity of flora and fauna.    A tree census and a small mammal sensor has been set up.     Cecilia is employing bat ultrasounds to monitor their roosting and feeding behaviour.   She is also using bird feeder cages, with a code on chip that recognizes the bird species, and assessing if birds feed more in ash areas.      



The next lab meeting is on Tuesday 23 March 2021 at 1pm  with a presentation by Tina  'Preliminary results on her systematic review of ‘Restoration in tropical mountain ecosystems’


Lab meeting on Tuesday 30 March 2021 at 1pm  presentation by David  "Pervasive tree survival decrease across the Wet Tropics of Australia in response to increasing atmospheric water stress"


Tuesday 6 April 2021 at 1pm  - presentation by Nikos Fyllas

Tuesday 13 April 2021 at 1pm  - NO MEETING 

Tuesday 20 April 2021 at 1pm  - presentation by Laura Picot Discussion on Code of Conduct for anti-racist and ethical fieldwork

Tuesday 27 April 2021 at 1pm  -  presentation by Ache "Exploring evidence of pollination limitation of cacao in Western Ghana".  

Tuesday 4 May 2021 at 1pm  - presentation by Nikki "Browsing is a strong filter for savanna tree seedlings in their first growing season".  


February 2021 news

Ecosystems Lab News for Tuesday 16 February 2021 


Congratulations to Terhi and her coauthors on the newly published paper in Global Change Biology: Major and persistent shifts in below‐ground carbon dynamics and soil respiration following logging in tropical forests.     

Brilliant work by all those in the Malaysian Borneo Safe Project.  The paper showcases the GEM  belowground approach and shows that logged forest soils may be losing carbon for decades after logging in the tropics.   


Congratulations to Trish who has submitted her first chapter now.  She maps forest restoration opportunities for each Indian state and agroforestry at the pan-India scale, for climate change mitigation.  


Cecilia Dahlsjo reported on Wytham research.   Monthly soil respiration data is being collected.  A litter experiment is assessing 3 different types of litter collected in different habitats, with and without ash.  Light and temperature data is coming out all the time.   Great tit small movement data is being collected too.  There is a small mammal census going on, a new invention by Kurt.  The Smithosonian plot is being recensused in June.   Mat Disney and co are due to visit to do 3D scanning in spring, and also in June.

There is lots going on, with Zoology and Plant sciences researchers involved, eg invertebrate sampling.

There is a really nice set up with different habitat types, others can collaborate on projects.  Toby Jackson works from his new Cambridge base.

Allie is working on a collaboration around robotics, with plans for a student to do tree recognition and more, walking around Wytham.

Allie reported that he will borrow spectrometers from an Edinburgh NERC facility,  one will stay on the tower collecting data continuously for most of this year, one will be walked around.

Kim Calders has sent a paper in which he is working on the biomass of Wytham based on laser scans.


The next lab meeting is on Tuesday 23 February at 1pm, Anabelle Cardoso will present "Fire and forest-savanna ecotones" 


Today's presentation by Ty Loft

“Forest Cover Change and Postwar Governance in Angola’s Miombo Woodlands: Initial Project Overview.”

Ty would like to travel to Angola in the Fall / autumn, if possible.    Angola is an oil dependent state.   War has shaped Angolan ecology in profound ways through the movement of people.   There has been lots of displacement.    Ty is planning to assess how Angola's post-conflict governance institutions have shaped tree cover patterns in Angola's miombo woodlands.  He will assess various factors in its resource dependent political economy, and its reconstruction plans.  There are few studies on forest change in Angola, and there aren't any on forest governance.    Ty will use remote sensing to assess forest change, considering patterns of forest use, agriculture and fire.   He will conduct interviews with policy makers and use document analysis.   He will work with local partners in Angola.   

Welcome back to Frank Sperling, who is doing a part-time DPhil.  He is presently based in Vienna, working with IIASA.  He was recently involved in the IIASA-ISC Consultative Science Platform, an initiative exploring early perspectives the implications of the pandemic for sustainable development, focusing on four interconnected themes: governance, science, energy and food systems.    

Yadvinder reported that Oxford is soon submitting a nature recovery Leverhulme bid. 

There will be a multi-year rewilding project taking place with partner Earthwatch on Wytham farm land. 

This week's reading group is taking place on Thursday at 4pm.   Nataly Castelblanco-Martinez and her co-authors will join the discussion on hippos in the Amazon. 

A hippo in the room: Predicting the persistence and dispersion of an invasive mega-vertebrate in Colombia, South America



The next lab meeting is on Tuesday 16 February at 1pm, with a presentation by Ty Loft

“Forest Cover Change and Postwar Governance in Angola’s Miombo Woodlands: Initial Project Overview.”

Today's presentation by Rodrigo Bello Carvalho

"Seed Dispersal and Frugivory in Neotropical Savannas (Project Preview)"

Why go for a seed dispersal study?  Because seed dispersal is seminal for ecosystem function, it plays a huge role in maintaining biodiversity, especially in the tropics.  It is a promising area for conservation. Seed dispersal knowledge is fundamental to many key questions. It synergizes with ecological restoration, conservation corridors, vegetation structure and fire regimes. Many wood species rely on animals for their seed dispersion. Larger trees commonly have larger seeds, for example the Jatoba tree, whose seeds are better dispersed by medium to large animals such as agouti and tapir.  There is a risk that these seed dispersers might go extinct, leading to changes in ecosystems dynamics or functionally extinct ecosystems.  The Empty Forest effect is a threat.   There is currently limited data collected on the dynamics of seed dispersal interactions, especially at the community level, over large spatial scales, and in heterogenous landscapes.   Not much seed dispersal knowledge is being utilised for conservation practice, and so this needs to be rectified. 

Rodrigo's area of study is the Brazilian Cerrado, a vast savanna biome hotspot in the neotropics, with high levels of endemism, an abundant zone for seed dispersal interactions, with heterogeneous landscapes.   He would like to identify the essential plant-frugivore networks here.   Rodrigo will use local partnerships, for example with the University of Brasilia.   His project sites are yet to be confirmed, but he will make a comparison between preserved and disturbed areas and will estimate species richness, composition, abundance, and evenness. He will measure stems, fruit, and seed sizes and monitor seed dispersal, and estimate reproductive size and size influence. He will use a relative importance value index. 

Rodrigo will record medium to large animals and their interactions with camera traps near fruiting trees.   He will observe if the fruit is eaten near the mother plant or carried outside the canopy. 

His methodology will include, data collection, fieldwork, and he will use sherman, havahard and tomahawk traps, and camera trapping, and bioacoustic records. He will make a classification of feeding habit and capacity, and body measurement to look at size influence on dispersal.    

Terhi has some funds which were initially meant for a capacity building workshop in Malaysia last year that then didn't take place, and due to its cancellation she is now keen to use these funds for producing videos on GEM protocols.  These could be translated into a variety of languages, and cover topics such as how to fly a drone.  There is already some footage from the GEM TV project.   Please contact Terhi if you  additional footage available or would like to help with this.   

Imma is giving a seminar next Tuesday at 8.30pm UK time for British Colombia University about forest savanna transitions.      


Imma has had paper accepted on fire regimes in Colombia


Elizabeth Le Roux has had a paper accepted on warming experiment and grass community responses.   She will send out link.    


Tina sent a paper for submission on her master thesis work, on the functional ecology of montane tree islands in the Atlantic forest, and also another paper on phenology of urban grasslands.

January 2021 News


Congratulations to Eleanor Thomson on her transfer of status 

Cecilia Dahlsjo is recruiting a person for a 1 year paid role to collect leaf litter and measure soil respiration at Wytham for a few days per month.  The work will be usually 10 – 15 hours per month throughout the year, although a little busier, around 20 – 25 hours per month in Sept – October.  The pay rate is hourly.   Litter collection will be for 2 or 3 days per month, 1 day of weighing leaf litter in the summer, and the rest of the time for data input.   

If you are interested, please contact Cecilia:


Yadvinder has been modelling and is now keen to recruit a person to convert some abundance data into energy flow data.  This will be a week or so of work, spread over a month or two.  This is a paid role, please contact Yadvinder if you are interested or have questions.   

22 September 2020Congratulations to Erika Berenguer for producing
educational videos on Amazon Fires.   
 Please have a look at those brilliant videos: you have any questions feel free to contact Erika.

22 September 2020
Congratulations to Erika Berenguer for producing educational videos on Amazon Fires.  Please have a look at those brilliant videos:

If you have any questions feel free to contact Erika.

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23 June 2020

Over the past week some of our hardworing lab members have been busy carrying out a field campaign at Wytham Woods. Here are some pictures (courtesy of Alexander Shenkin)

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23 June 2020

Over the past month Erika, Claudia, Cecile, Aoife and Yadvinder have been working hard to raise funds to support the Amazon people who have been experiencing severe hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are proud to say that, thank you to very generous donations, we have now raised nearly £20k, that will go towards providing face mask, food parcels, sanitary packs and medicine to communities in Brazil and Peru.
more information on

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23 June 2020

Our weekly Zoom lab meetings have been a great way to keep in touch and keep us all going during these testing times!

14 May 2020
The Ecosystems Lab is still meeting at least three timesa week via Zoom.
Tuesday for our lab meeting, Wednesday for the Biodiveristy Coffee and Thursday for the reading group. 

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