A major focus of our work is constraining the rates and drivers of tree mortality at regional-global scales, with a view to answering major biogeographical questions and constraining the highly uncertain role of tree mortality in the carbon cycle. This work is funded by the TreeMort project which we lead. We aim to answer questions such as:

  • How do the rates and drivers of tree mortality vary from the tropical rainforest to the boreal?
  • What is the relative importance of the different processes responsible for tree death?
  • How are these likely to change going into the future (see McDowell et al., 2020).
  • Are there strong feedbacks with the carbon cycle and climate?

Research within TreeMort draws on a range of data sources including forest inventories, satellite observations and plant trait data to put together a global picture of tree mortality rates and drivers. This information will be used to inform updated mortality functions for terrestrial vegetation models and thus advance understanding of large-scale forest form and function.

We also take a leading role within the International Tree Mortality Network, where our mission is to facilitate collaboration between scientists to combine expertise, knowledge and data, thereby allowing a global assessment of tree mortality and providing crucial information for forest managers and policymaking.

Role of young versus old forests in climate change

What kills trees?