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Plant communities and climbers in degraded and regenerating forest landscapes of Borneo

   Envision DTP

  Dr Lindsay Banin, Dr G van der Heijden  Wednesday, January 12, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Edinburgh United Kingdom Data Analysis Ecology Environmental Sciences Geography Plant Biology

About the Project

Tropical forests are becoming increasingly fragmented as a result of land-use pressures. Due to different land-use histories, remnant forests are not created equal; some are more structurally intact than others and this can alter the capacity for a forest to naturally regenerate. Evidence is emerging that regenerating plant communities vary spatially and further research can elucidate the causes of different trajectories of recovery. Notably, liana infestation can be a feature of degraded forests. Lianas compete with trees for key resources (light, water, nutrients), increasing mortality of juvenile trees and altering reproductive processes within the canopy, which together influences the capacity for forest regeneration. Climber-cutting is frequently considered in restoration interventions but we need to understand more about the role of lianas in regeneration and the efficacy of such interventions. This innovative project explores the interactions between liana infestation, phenology and native tree regeneration in the fragmented forest landscape across Sabah, Borneo.

Project aims:

1.      Quantify variation in forest structure and liana infestation in forest remnants with different landscape attributes (e.g. degree of fragmentation; proximity to intact forest) using ground-based and remotely sensed methods

2.      Record the understorey assemblage using plot-based botanical inventory and test for relationships between forest structure, liana infestation and landscape-level factors in determining tree seedling community composition

3.      Test for canopy effects of lianas on leaf, flower and fruit phenology and relate phenological patterns to the understorey community.

There is an impetus to restore degraded forests through carbon offsetting and sustainability compliance schemes, reinforced by large-scale initiatives (e.g. UN Decade of Restoration, 2021-2031), making this project very timely. The study’s findings will contribute to the evidence base for forest recovery under different states of degradation. The project offers opportunities for training in a combination of novel methods to target these exciting, critical science questions.


We encourage applications from highly motivated, enthusiastic individuals with an undergraduate or Master’s degree in a relevant subject. Relevant experience beyond academic qualifications is also desirable and may include field experience, leadership, project management and technical skills used in the project.


Please direct enquiries about this project to Dr Lindsay Banin

To apply for this project follow this link