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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future

Studying at Cambridge


Dr David Coomes

Dr David Coomes


Head of Forest Ecology and Conservation Group

Office Phone: 01223 333911

Departments and Institutes

Plant Sciences:

Research Interests

Forest dynamics

Forest ecosystems provide habitat for the majority of the earth’s biodiversity and are source of numerous ecosystem services, ranging from the provision of timber to regulation of carbon sequestration and storage. A clear understanding of forest dynamics is therefore necessary if these resources are to be managed and protected effectively, especially in the face of global change. Describing and quantifying processes such as mortality, regeneration and species interactions, and how they change over

Nothofagus forest

time and across the landscape, is key if an attempt to predict and mitigate the impacts of drivers such as climate change and land use change is to be made.

We combine several different approaches and methods to the study of forest dynamics. LiDAR remote sensing and hyper- spectral technology is being used alongside field studies to disentangle different aspects of forest dynamics, ranging in scope from individual trees to entire regions. In parallel, these datasets are being used to develop new, more accurate and comprehensive predictive models of forest dynamics.

Carbon sequestration

Nothofagus forests in New Zealand

We are assessing the impact of land-use change on carbon storage and diversity loss using a blend of remote-sensing and ground based approaches. We are developing expertise in LiDAR and hyperspectral imagery as a method to determine large scale forest structure and composition.

Forest biodiversity

Taking oak forests of southern Iberia as a model system, we are also employing airborne LIDAR to look at forest structure and plant diversity relationships. The same remote sensing technology is one of a number of approaches being adopted to study how forest biodiversity affects ecosystem function, through our participation in the FunDivEurope consortium.