Understanding and utilising plant-animal interactions to facilitate forest regeneration in degraded landscapes

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Natural Sciences & Env Sciences

Abstract

Using a quasi-experimental approach and spatial modelling, this project will test the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on the success of natural forest restoration in an expansive landscape dominated by oil palm production (Northern Borneo). Southeast Asia has experienced some of the highest rates of land-use and land cover change globally, with 65% of the terrestrial land surface now covered by human-modified tropical forests .Unlike monoculture timber or oil palm plantations, logged forests often retain a large proportion of their endemic biodiversity and ecosystem functions. If managed appropriately, they hold tremendous potential for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. This PhD project will resolve key uncertainties surrounding this appropriate management by identifying the biological, environmental and anthropogenic constraints on tree re-establishment in logged forest ecosystems. Using a combination of field-, desk-and greenhouse-based techniques, the PhD student will examine the role of human management (such as reduced impact logging, liana removal), biotic processes (dispersal, competition, herbivory, mycorrhizas) and abiotic factors(topography, microclimate, soil properties, landscape connectivity) in regulating tree establishment and growth in the Murum region in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. We expect the PhD student to use a blend of greenhouse studies, manipulative field experiments, remote sensing and advanced, 'big data' spatial modelling. Full training will be provided from world experts in these fields. Working with our CASE Partner, the PhD will be able to feed those findings into management plans detailing actions that pave the way for successful forest restoration activities in the future.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007512/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2027
2455693 Studentship NE/S007512/1 28/09/2020 29/03/2024 Rebekah Grace Puttick