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What drives variability in tree mortality across global forests?

Project Description

Why do trees die? How do the rates and drivers of tree mortality vary from the tropical rainforest to the boreal? How do these mortality rates affect forest structure? These questions are crucial in order to understand large-scale forest dynamics. They are also of fundamental importance for our understanding of how climate change will evolve because forest ecosystems are huge stores and sinks of carbon. The TreeMort project aims to answer these questions, creating a first global biogeography of tree mortality and using this to improve our understanding of forest function and better constrain projections of terrestrial carbon uptake (

This is an opportunity to carry out a PhD alongside the TreeMort team within the Biosphere-Atmosphere Exchange group at the University of Birmingham ( There will be the opportunity to help build and analyse an unprecedented global dataset of forest inventory observations and to apply the results within a state-of-the-art global ecosystem model, LPJ-GUESS, to achieve a complete flow from observations, to understanding, to implications. There is significant scope to tailor the project to the specific interests of the student.

The student will benefit from exciting training opportunities and international activity within the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, resulting from the huge recent investment in forest research at Birmingham ( They will have the opportunity to develop skills in analysis of big data, quantitative ecosystem modelling and scientific code development. There will be substantial opportunities to build strong links international links, collaborating with multiple global partners. Strong statistical skills, alongside some existing experience of computer coding (e.g. R, Python, Matlab) would be an advantage.

For further details please contact Dr Tom Pugh (). Applications can be submitted at any time via the University of Birmingham website.

Funding Notes

Self fund students

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 25.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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