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former members
Former group members of the Forest Ecology and Conservation Group include:
Georges Kunstler
Kerry-Lee Jenkins
Jennie Bee
Sean Husheer
Robert Holdaway
David Wright
Andrew Tanentzap
Natalia Vizcaino Palomar
Pieter De Frenne

Warren Bentley

PhD student 2004-2009. Warren explored the contribution that waterlogging makes, alongside P depletion, in driving ecosystem retrogression. He conducted field work in forests on southern coast of the South Island, New Zealand, deep within Fiordland National Park. Data were collected from permanent plots established in mixed conifer-angiosperm rain forests located along a soil chronosequence formed by a series of uplifted marine terraces over 300,000 years. These terraces have markedly different nutrient and moisture regimes providing a very useful model system for exploring alternative theories of ecosystem development.
Specific topics of study included:
  • Reconstructing forest disturbance history and forest dynamics using dendrochronological methods.

  • Determining the relative importance of biotic and abiotic factors affecting tree growth and litter decomposition along the chronosequence.

  • Evaluating which nutrients are most limiting for growth by testing the effects of nutrient addition on tree diameter and root growth rates, leaf nutrient content, and carbon dioxide assimilation.

Laura Spence

Education and work experience:
  • Postdoctoral Researcher (2011-present) PIRE Mongolia project, University of Pennsylvania

  • Field Team-Leader (2009-2010) Landcare Research, New Zealand

  • PhD Plant Ecology (2005-2009) Forest Ecology and Conservation Group, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

  • BA Natural Sciences (2001-2004) St. John's College, University of Cambridge

Research interests: Steppe grassland dynamics and management; grassland response to climatic change; forest understorey invasion; native and exotic species dynamics; role of mycorrhizal fungi in plant invasion; long-term ecological studies; effects of deer on vegetation; consequences of rising deer populations; fairy rings.


David Wright

David's PhD project focuses on the impact of deer invasion on New Zealand forests. He used long term census data collected from a variety of forest types to describe demographic patterns at the national scale. He assessed the importance of deer in driving tree recruitment and mortality by making comparisons with a network of exclosure plots established over a similar time period. Other areas of research include identification of foliar traits which influence deer diet preferences, and an experimental comparison of the responses of New Zealand and European tree saplings to soil treatments and simulated browsing.


Natalia Vizcaino Palomar

Education: BSc Forestry Engineering. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain) and MSc Advanced Forest Research Science. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain)
Collaborators: U.D. Forestry and reforestation, ETSI de Montes, Madrid (Spain)
Funding: MEC PhD studentship (Spain)
Research interests: Provide scientific support to improve our knowledge of Iberian forest systems, attending to new demands for ecosystem services and Global Change. We plan to achieve the following objectives:
  • Explore local resilience and strength of natural selection in P. pinaster in the early stages of emergency such as seedling, summer survival, and so on.

  • Understanding the differential effects of plasticity and local adaptation in some species.

  • Apply knowledge to formulate regional allometric models incorporating both aspects - local adaptation and plasticity to better understand the ecological differences between species and improve estimates of biomass and carbon dioxide capture.

  • Develop models of forest dynamics based on individuals that incorporate ontogenetic stages.