I began my PhD at the University of Leeds in October 2018. Through my project I aim to better understand the effects that rapidly increasing temperatures might have on the ability of tropical tree species to reproduce. I am passionate about plant conservation worldwide but in particular the study of tropical forest ecosystems.
As an undergraduate I studied Biology at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in Plant Science in my fourth and final year. Later I studied at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Queen Mary University for my Masters in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation, where for my thesis I modelled the species distribution of Uapaca bojeri, an endangered, socio-economically important tree species endemic to Madagascar. This was in order to better understand the climatic and environmental factors that interact to shape Tapia’s distribution, with the goal of providing information to support future conservation efforts.
The project that I have begun at Leeds aims to improve our understanding of the effects that climate change – and in particular increasing temperatures – will have on the reproduction and recruitment of tropical tree species. It is largely focused on developing an in situ inflorescence heating experiment in Nova Xavantina, Brazil, to detect the effects that higher temperatures might have on the success of reproduction in at least two tropical tree species, one of which is Byrsonima pachyphylla (the other is yet to be determined). I will also analyse long-term datasets collected by researchers at Matto Grosso State University (Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso; UNEMAT) in order to to improve our understanding of the long-term impacts of environmental change on tropical reproductive phenology. Nova Xavantina (at the Southern border of the Amazon rainforest) is a particularly interesting field site as maximum daily temperatures are high and have increased rapidly in recent years, meaning that forest species may already be reaching their high temperature limits. My project mainly focusses on the Cerrado biome (or Brazillian savannah), which is the second largest biome in South America after the Amazon forest, a ‘hotspot’ for biodiversity conservation, is facing the highest rates of land use change in Brazil, and yet remains a largely understudied biome.
In addition to the work I am doing as part of this project my broad research interests include:
- Tropical forest ecology and conservation
- Agroecology, agroforestry, climate adaptive agriculture and sustainable livelihoods
- Climate change adaptation and mitigation
- Ecosystem services, particularly related to forests
- Remote sensing and surveying of forests
- BSc (Hons) in Biology (Plant Science), University of Edinburgh
- MSc in Plant & Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation, RBG Kew & Queen Mary University