Forest and Tropical Ecology
Lead by Prof Daniel Kelly, a plant ecologist with a focus on forests and woodlands – the most complex of terrestrial ecosystems. Research is driven by a fascination with the diversity of the plant kingdom, and extends from trees down to the Lilliputian world of mosses & liverworts. I also address the practical challenges of managing woodlands and other more-or-less natural habitats sustainably: how to achieve a balance between human needs and the long-term safeguarding of biodiversity.
Research is divided between Ireland and the New World Tropics. Irish studies focus on native woodlands, and include plant community diversity, tree regeneration and the effects of large herbivores. These studies involve monitoring of permanent plots and experimental enclosures, especially in the Killarney area. In Honduras (Central America), I am involved in studies of plant community ecology and biogeography in Cusuco National Park. This work has revealed a rich and poorly-known flora, with three species new to Science already published - including a hitherto unknown genus of tree - and others awaiting description.