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The tropics, home to the majority of the world’s biodiversity, are currently under multiple threats: land use change, resource exploitation, climate change, invasive species and pollution.

Researchers at the University of Stirling work on projects across the world to study the ecology of tropical habitats and contribute to the science informing their conservation. The university has had a long association with tropical ecology, hosting the “African Forest Ecology Group (AFEG)” whose members have studied the ecology and conservation of the Central African tropical forests for over three decades. Whilst the initial focus for their work was in Lopé National Park, Gabon, it is now widely spread across several sites and countries and has been highly influential in shaping the face of current conservation in central Africa and elsewhere in the tropics.

Tropical Ecology and Conservation (TEAC) is a forum for tropical researchers at Stirling to meet together regularly to discuss project plans and findings, encourage collaboration and organise meetings and workshops.

  • Members


    Prof Alistair Jump (Professor in Plant Ecology)
    Dr Katharine Abernethy (Reader in Tropical Ecology)
    Prof Nils Bunnefeld (Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science)
    Dr Daisy Dent (Lecturer in Tropical Ecology)
    Dr C E Timothy Paine (Lecturer in Environmental and Ecosystems Science)
    Dr Kathryn Jeffery (Research Fellow)
    David Lehmann (Research Assistant)

    Honorary Staff

    Prof Lee White (Honorary Professor)
    Dr Fiona Maisels (Honorary Research Fellow)
    Aline Howarth (Associate Researcher)

    Research Students

    Stéphanie Bourgeois
    Tom Bradfer-Laurence
    Anna Deasey
    Peter Morley

  • Research Themes

    Mammalian Ecology and Conservation

    Building good conservation policy requires detailed knowledge of wildlife numbers and ecological needs, as well as quantification of threats. In the tropics, this knowledge is often hard to come by, even for seemingly familiar species, like the gorilla, chimpanzee or mandrill. Long-term ecological research on large mammals carried out by TEAC members guides species and habitat conservation activities across the Congo Basin region and further afield.

    1. Genetic study of forest elephants in Gabon; population assignment of ivory
    2. Mandrill Ecology and Conservation
    3. Assessment of western lowland gorilla and central chimpanzee abundance and trends
    4. Movement patterns, migration corridors and habitat suitability of white-eared kob in Ethiopia and Southern Sudan

    Community ecology and ecosystem function

    Tropical ecosystems are extremely complex and as a scientific community we are only just beginning to understand how they work. TEAC members work in tropical forest systems worldwide (e.g. Panama, Malaysia, French Guiana, Peru, Brazil, Gabon) asking such questions as: Why do species differ so widely in abundance? What keeps rare species from going extinct? And how does disturbance impact community composition?

    1. Functional composition of secondary forests and fragments
    2. Community assembly and functional traits in tropical rainforests
    3. Understanding the changing distribution of the high altitude Abies kawakamii forests of Taiwan
    4. Phylogeography and molecular ecology of east African tropical forests
    5. Invasive species ecology and management  

    Carbon, climate change and ecosystem services

    The tropics play an important role in determining global climate and, in the face of rising atmospheric CO2 levels, worldwide attention has been drawn particularly to the extent and importance of carbon stored in tropical forests and associated habitats. The tropics will also be impacted by changes in global climate, with subsequent effects cascading through ecosystems and the human societies that depend on them.

    1. Climate change, phenological cycles and long-term strategic plans in Central Africa
    2. Pan African patterns of change in tree phenology
    3. Carbon stocks and nutrient cycling in the Congo Basin

    Anthropogenic impacts on tropical ecosystems

    TEAC Members have worked for many years with partners in Gabon towards the sustainable use of wildlife, reduction of human-wildlife conflicts and mitigation of the environmental impacts of human activities. Current projects cover a broad spectrum of anthropogenic influence from bushmeat markets and fire ecology in central Africa to large-scale hydropower development in the Amazon.

      1. Sustainable management of the bushmeat and NTFP trades in Gabon
      2. Fire ecology for park management in a forest-savanna mosaic
      3. Biodiversity and carbon impacts of hydropower development

    Conservation in Action

    For over 20 years, Stirling researchers have been strongly committed to training and educating wildlife biologists in the Congo Basin. Over this time they have mentored and trained hundreds of students, ranging from local ecoguides and ecoguards to biology undergraduates, wildlife college students, conservation professionals and graduate research students. TEAC “conservation in action” activities includes education and training, capacity building, informing conservation policy and national strategies and park management.

  • Current Projects

    Currently no information available.

  • Publications

    Currently no information available.

  • Partners
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