My PhD research has focused on predicting tree performance in relation to the environment, using long-term forest demography data.
At small spatial scales I have worked to improve predictions of tree survival and growth from functional traits. I sampled a broad suite of structural and physiological traits from 700 saplings in a translocation experiment in Malua Forest, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, and modelled how traits and performance responded to different components of the environment. This research highlighted that traits vary hugely within species, and demonstrated that accounting for this variation can make predictions of species survival and growth more accurate.
In the Australian Wet Tropics, I have worked to quantify the forest carbon sink and understand how it responds to a changing climate and to cyclones, which are prevalent in the Australian tropics. I used long-term data from the CSIRO tropical permanent plot network to estimate standing forest biomass, and used statistical models to map changes in forest biomass to changes in climate. I have also worked to quantify uncertainties in the Australian tropical forest carbon sink that occur because of trait variation within-species, and structural variations between different Australian rainforest types.
During my Honours research I developed the first reconstruction of a polar forest community (Chatham Islands, New Zealand) from the late Cretaceous (ca. 97 may). I collected and prepared fossils, mapped and interpreted sedimentary rocks, and appropriated ecological sampling methods used in vegetation surveys to understand the relative abundance of different groups.