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University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute

Promoting collaborative research on biodiversity conservation and its impacts

Studying at Cambridge


Professor David A Coomes

by Alison Harvey last modified Jul 25, 2016 03:19 PM

Forest Ecology and Conservation Group

Subject groups/Research projects

Conservation Interventions:
The State of Nature:
Protected Areas/Important Areas for Biodiversity:
  • Assessing the impact of land-use change on carbon storage and biodiversity using remote-sensing and GIS approaches, with application to the 2010-targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Measuring carbon storage in forests, and developing mechanisms for reducing deforestation in developing countries through carbon trading;
  • Researching the effects of introduced organisms on forest communities and developing control strategies;
  • Using geo-referenced plant-location data and global climate surfaces to understand the effects of climate change on biological diversity and trait evolution.
  • Developing new biological scaling theories, and confirming their significance by statistical analyses of forest inventory data.
  • Parameterising simulation models to examine the responses of forests to environmental change.
Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services:

Departments and Institutes

Plant Sciences:

Key Publications

Baeten, L., Verheyen, K., Wirth, C., Bruelheide, H., Bussotti, F., Finér, L., . . . Scherer-Lorenzen, M. (2013). A novel comparative research platform designed to determine the functional significance of tree species diversity in European forests. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 15(5), 281-291.
Coomes, D. A., Allen, R. B., Forsyth, D. M., & Lee, W. G. (2003). Factors preventing the recovery of New Zealand forests following control of invasive deer. CONSERV BIOL, 17(2), 450-459.
Tanentzap, A. J., Bazely, D. R., Koh, S., Timciska, M., Haggith, E. G., Carleton, T. J., . . . Coomes, D. A. (2011). Seeing the forest for the deer: Do reductions in deer-disturbance lead to forest recovery?. BIOL CONSERV, 144(1), 376-382. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.09.015
Wardle, D. A., Hörnberg, G., Zackrisson, O., Kalela-Brundin, M., & Coomes, D. A. (2003). Long-term effects of wildfire on ecosystem properties across an island area gradient.. Science, 300(5621), 972-975. doi:10.1126/science.1082709
Rands, M. R. W., Adams, W. M., Bennun, L., Butchart, S. H. M., Clements, A., Coomes, D., . . . Vira, B. (2011). Culture and Biodiversity Losses Linked Response. SCIENCE, 331(6013), 31.
Russo, S. E., Wiser, S. K., & Coomes, D. A. (2008). A re-analysis of growth-size scaling relationships of woody plant species (vol 10, pg 889, 2007). ECOL LETT, 11(3), 311-312. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01156.x
Grubb, P. J., Jackson, R. V., Barberis, I. M., Bee, J. N., Coomes, D. A., Dominy, N. J., . . . Vargas, O. (2008). Monocot leaves are eaten less than dicot leaves in tropical lowland rain forests: correlations with toughness and leaf presentation.. Ann Bot, 101(9), 1379-1389. doi:10.1093/aob/mcn047
Bee, J. N., Tanentzap, A. J., Lee, W. G., Lavers, R. B., Mark, A. F., Mills, J. A., . . . Coomes, D. A. (2011). Influence of foliar traits on forage selection by introduced red deer in New Zealand. BASIC APPL ECOL, 12(1), 56-63. doi:10.1016/j.baae.2010.09.010
Wright, D. M., Jordan, G. J., Lee, W. G., Duncan, R. P., Forsyth, D. M., & Coomes, D. A. (2010). Do leaves of plants on phosphorus-impoverished soils contain high concentrations of phenolic defence compounds?. FUNCT ECOL, 24(1), 52-61. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2009.01597.x
Coomes, D. A., & Grubb, P. J. (1998). Responses of juvenile trees to above- and belowground competition in nutrient-starved Amazonian rain forest. ECOLOGY, 79(3), 768-782.
Coomes, D. A. (2006). Challenges to the generality of WBE theory.. Trends Ecol Evol, 21(11), 593-596. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2006.09.002
Husheer, S. W., Coomes, D. A., & Robertson, A. W. (2003). Long-term influences of introduced deer on the composition and structure of New Zealand Nothofagus forests. In FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT Vol. 181 (pp. 99-117). doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(03)00120-8
Russo, S. E., Wiser, S. K., & Coomes, D. A. (2007). Growth-size scaling relationships of woody plant species differ from predictions of the Metabolic Ecology Model.. Ecol Lett, 10(10), 889-901. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01079.x
Gaxiola, A., McNeill, S. M., & Coomes, D. A. (2010). What drives retrogressive succession? Plant strategies to tolerate infertile and poorly drained soils. FUNCT ECOL, 24(4), 714-722. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2010.01688.x
Coomes, D. A., & Grubb, P. J. (1996). Amazonian caatinga and related communities at La Esmeralda, Venezuela: Forest structure, physiognomy and floristics, and control by soil factors. VEGETATIO, 122(2), 167-191.
Simonson, W. D., Allen, H. D., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). Use of an airborne lidar system to model plant species composition and diversity of Mediterranean oak forests.. Conserv Biol, 26(5), 840-850. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01869.x
Bee, J. N., Kunstler, G., & Coomes, D. A. (2007). Resistance and resilience of New Zealand tree species to browsing. J ECOL, 95(5), 1014-1026. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01261.x
Tanentzap, A. J., Mountford, E. P., Cooke, A. S., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). The more stems the merrier: Advantages of multi-stemmed architecture for the demography of understorey trees in a temperate broadleaf woodland. Journal of Ecology, 100(1), 171-183.
Jucker, T., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). Comment on "Plant species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands".. Science, 337(6091), 155. doi:10.1126/science.1220473
Brodribb, T. J., Pittermann, J., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). Elegance versus speed: Examining the competition between conifer and angiosperm trees. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 173(6), 673-694.
Echeverría, C., Newton, A., Nahuelhual, L., Coomes, D., & Rey-Benayas, J. M. (2012). How landscapes change: Integration of spatial patterns and human processes in temperate landscapes of southern Chile. Applied Geography, 32(2), 822-831.
Wright, D. M., Tanentzap, A. J., Flores, O., Husheer, S. W., Duncan, R. P., Wiser, S. K., . . . Coomes, D. A. (2012). Impacts of culling and exclusion of browsers on vegetation recovery across New Zealand forests. Biological Conservation, 153, 64-71.
Tanentzap, A. J., Lee, W. G., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). Soil nutrient supply modulates temperature-induction cues in mast-seeding grasses.. Ecology, 93(3), 462-469. Retrieved from
Hurst, J. M., Allen, R. B., Coomes, D. A., & Duncan, R. P. (2011). Size-specific tree mortality varies with neighbourhood crowding and disturbance in a Montane Nothofagus forest.. PLoS One, 6(10), e26670. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026670
Lines, E. R., Zavala, M. A., Purves, D. W., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). Predictable changes in aboveground allometry of trees along gradients of temperature, aridity and competition. Global Ecology and Biogeography.
Spence, L. A., Dickie, I. A., & Coomes, D. A. (2011). Arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculum potential: a mechanism promoting positive diversity-invasibility relationships in mountain beech forests in New Zealand?. Mycorrhiza, 21(4), 309-314. doi:10.1007/s00572-010-0340-4
Turnbull, L. A., Coomes, D., Hector, A., & Rees, M. (2004). Seed mass and the competition/colonization trade-off: Competitive interactions and spatial patterns in a guild of annual plants. Journal of Ecology, 92(1), 97-109.
Coomes, D. A., Rees, M., Grubb, P. J., & Turnbull, L. (2002). Are differences in seed mass among species important in structuring plant communities? Evidence from analyses of spatial and temporal variation in dune-annual populations. OIKOS, 96(3), 421-432.
Echeverria, C., Coomes, D. A., Hall, M., & Newton, A. C. (2008). Spatially explicit models to analyze forest loss and fragmentation between 1976 and 2020 in southern Chile. ECOL MODEL, 212(3-4), 439-449. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2007.10.045
Ewers, R. M., Kapos, V., Coomes, D. A., Lafortezza, R., & Didham, R. K. (2009). Mapping community change in modified landscapes. BIOL CONSERV, 142(12), 2872-2880. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.06.022
Gaxiola, A., Burrows, L. E., & Coomes, D. A. (2008). Tree fern trunks facilitate seedling regeneration in a productive lowland temperate rain forest.. Oecologia, 155(2), 325-335. doi:10.1007/s00442-007-0915-8
Kunstler, G., Albert, C. H., Courbaud, B., Lavergne, S., Thuiller, W., Vieilledent, G., . . . Coomes, D. A. (2011). Effects of competition on tree radial-growth vary in importance but not in intensity along climatic gradients. J ECOL, 99(1), 300-312. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01751.x
Simonson, W. D., Allen, H. D., & Coomes, D. A. (2013). Remotely sensed indicators of forest conservation status: Case study from a Natura 2000 site in southern Portugal. Ecological Indicators, 24, 636-647.
Kunstler, G., Lavergne, S., Courbaud, B., Thuiller, W., Vieilledent, G., Zimmermann, N. E., . . . Coomes, D. A. (2012). Competitive interactions between forest trees are driven by species' trait hierarchy, not phylogenetic or functional similarity: implications for forest community assembly.. Ecol Lett, 15(8), 831-840. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01803.x
Price, C. A., Weitz, J. S., Savage, V. M., Stegen, J., Clarke, A., Coomes, D. A., . . . Chave, J. (2012). Testing the metabolic theory of ecology.. Ecol Lett, 15(12), 1465-1474. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01860.x
Hoorens, B., Coomes, D., & Aerts, R. (2010). Neighbour identity hardly affects litter-mixture effects on decomposition rates of New Zealand forest species.. Oecologia, 162(2), 479-489. doi:10.1007/s00442-009-1454-2
Holdaway, R. J., Sparrow, A. D., & Coomes, D. A. (2010). Trends in entropy production during ecosystem development in the Amazon Basin.. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 365(1545), 1437-1447. doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0298
Echeverria, C., Newton, A. C., Lara, A., Benayas, J. M. R., & Coomes, D. A. (2007). Impacts of forest fragmentation on species composition and forest structure in the temperate landscape of southern Chile. GLOBAL ECOL BIOGEOGR, 16(4), 426-439.
Forsyth, D. M., Wilmshurst, J. M., Allen, R. B., & Coomes, D. A. (2010). Impacts of introduced deer and extinct moa on New Zealand ecosystems. NEW ZEAL J ECOL, 34(1), 48-65.
Coomes, D. A., & Allen, R. B. (2009). Testing the Metabolic Scaling Theory of tree growth. J ECOL, 97(6), 1369-1373. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01571.x
Coomes, D. A., & Grubb, P. J. (2000). Impacts of root competition in forests and woodlands: A theoretical framework and review of experiments. ECOL MONOGR, 70(2), 171-207.
Coomes, D. A., Duncan, R. P., Allen, R. B., & Truscott, J. (2003). Disturbances prevent stem size-density distributions in natural forests from following scaling relationships. ECOL LETT, 6(11), 980-989. doi:10.1046/j.1461-0248.2003.00520.x
Spence, L. A., Ross, J. V., Wiser, S. K., Allen, R. B., & Coomes, D. A. (2011). Disturbance affects short-term facilitation, but not long-term saturation, of exotic plant invasion in New Zealand forest.. Proc Biol Sci, 278(1711), 1457-1466. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1738
Lafortezza, R., Coomes, D. A., Kapos, V., & Ewers, R. M. (2010). Assessing the impacts of fragmentation on plant communities in New Zealand: scaling from survey plots to landscapes. GLOBAL ECOL BIOGEOGR, 19(5), 741-754. doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00542.x
Coomes, D. A., Jenkins, K. L., & Cole, L. E. (2007). Scaling of tree vascular transport systems along gradients of nutrient supply and altitude.. Biol Lett, 3(1), 86-89. Retrieved from
Tanentzap, A. J., & Coomes, D. A. (2012). Carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems: do browsing and grazing herbivores matter?. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc, 87(1), 72-94. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2011.00185.x
Tanentzap, A. J., Burrows, L. E., Lee, W. G., Nugent, G., Maxwell, J. M., & Coomes, D. A. (2009). Landscape-level vegetation recovery from herbivory: progress after four decades of invasive red deer control. J APPL ECOL, 46(5), 1064-1072. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01683.x
Coomes, D. A., Lines, E. R., & Allen, R. B. (2011). Moving on from Metabolic Scaling Theory: hierarchical models of tree growth and asymmetric competition for light. J ECOL, 99(3), 748-756. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2011.01811.x
Coomes, D. A., & Allen, R. B. (2007). Effects of size, competition and altitude on tree growth. J ECOL, 95(5), 1084-1097. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01280.x
Coomes, D. A., Kunstler, G., Canham, C. D., & Wright, E. (2009). A greater range of shade-tolerance niches in nutrient-rich forests: an explanation for positive richness-productivity relationships?. J ECOL, 97(4), 705-717. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01507.x
Flores, O., & Coomes, D. A. (2011). Estimating the wood density of species for carbon stock assessments. METHODS ECOL EVOL, 2(2), 214-220. doi:10.1111/j.2041-210X.2010.00068.x
Tanentzap, A. J., Lee, W. G., Dugdale, J. S., Patrick, B. P., Fenner, M., Walker, S., . . . Coomes, D. A. (2011). Differential responses of vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores to traits of New Zealand subalpine shrubs.. Ecology, 92(4), 994-999. Retrieved from
Echeverria, C., Coomes, D., Salas, J., Rey-Benayas, J. M., Lara, A., & Newton, A. (2006). Rapid deforestation and fragmentation of Chilean Temperate Forests. Biological Conservation, 130(4), 481-494.
Coomes, D. A., Allen, R. B., Scott, N. A., Goulding, C., & Beets, P. (2002). Designing systems to monitor carbon stocks in forests and shrublands. FOREST ECOL MANAG, 164(1-3), 89-108.
Syfert, M. M., Smith, M. J., & Coomes, D. A. (2013). The effects of sampling bias and model complexity on the predictive performance of MaxEnt species distribution models.. PLoS One, 8(2), e55158. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055158
Laurin, G. V., Liesenberg, V., Chen, Q., Guerriero, L., Del Frate, F., Bartolini, A., . . . Valentini, R. (2012). Optical and SAR sensor synergies for forest and land cover mapping in a tropical site in West Africa. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 21(1), 7-16.
Lines, E. R., Coomes, D. A., & Purves, D. W. (2010). Influences of forest structure, climate and species composition on tree mortality across the eastern US.. PLoS One, 5(10), e13212. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013212
Turnbull, L. A., Coomes, D. A., Purves, D. W., & Rees, M. (2007). How spatial structure alters population and community dynamics in a natural plant community. J ECOL, 95(1), 79-89. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2006.01184.x
Coomes, D. A., Holdaway, R. J., Kobe, R. K., Lines, E. R., & Allen, R. B. (2012). A general integrative framework for modelling woody biomass production and carbon sequestration rates in forests. Journal of Ecology, 100(1), 42-64.
Janssen, T., Bystriakova, N., Rakotondrainibe, F., Coomes, D., Labat, J. N., & Schneider, H. (2008). Neoendemism in Madagascan scaly tree ferns results from recent, coincident diversification bursts.. Evolution, 62(8), 1876-1889. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00408.x
Ruiz-Benito, P., Lines, E. R., Gómez-Aparicio, L., Zavala, M. A., & Coomes, D. A. (2013). Patterns and drivers of tree mortality in iberian forests: climatic effects are modified by competition.. PLoS One, 8(2), e56843. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056843
Vanderwel, M. C., Coomes, D. A., & Purves, D. W. (2013). Quantifying variation in forest disturbance, and its effects on aboveground biomass dynamics, across the eastern United States.. Glob Chang Biol, 19(5), 1504-1517. doi:10.1111/gcb.12152
De Frenne, P., Graae, B. J., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Kolb, A., Chabrerie, O., Decocq, G., . . . Verheyen, K. (2013). Latitudinal gradients as natural laboratories to infer species' responses to temperature. Journal of Ecology, 101(3), 784-795.
Sutherland, W. J., Freckleton, R. P., Godfray, H. C. J., Beissinger, S. R., Benton, T., Cameron, D. D., . . . Wiegand, T. (2013). Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions. Journal of Ecology, 101(1), 58-67.
Kunstler, G., Allen, R. B., Coomes, D. A., Canham, C. D., & Wright, E. F. (2013). Sustainable management, earthquake disturbances, and transient dynamics: Modelling timber harvesting impacts in mixed-species forests. Annals of Forest Science, 70(3), 287-298.
De Frenne, P., Coomes, D. A., De Schrijver, A., Staelens, J., Alexander, J. M., Bernhardt-Römermann, M., . . . Verheyen, K. (2014). Plant movements and climate warming: intraspecific variation in growth responses to nonlocal soils.. New Phytol. doi:10.1111/nph.12672
Coomes, D. A., Bentley, W. A., Tanentzap, A. J., & Burrows, L. E. (2013). Soil drainage and phosphorus depletion contribute to retrogressive succession along a New Zealand chronosequence. Plant and Soil, 367(1-2), 77-91.
Tanentzap, A. J., Zou, J., & Coomes, D. A. (2013). Getting the biggest birch for the bang: restoring and expanding upland birchwoods in the Scottish Highlands by managing red deer.. Ecol Evol, 3(7), 1890-1901. doi:10.1002/ece3.548
Lai, J., Coomes, D. A., Du, X., Hsieh, C. -F., Sun, I. -F., Chao, W. -C., . . . Ma, K. (2013). A general combined model to describe tree-diameter distributions within subtropical and temperate forest communities. Oikos.
Baeten, L., Verheyen, K., Wirth, C., Bruelheide, H., Bussotti, F., Finér, L., . . . Scherer-Lorenzen, M. (2013). A novel comparative research platform designed to determine the functional significance of tree species diversity in European forests. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics.
De Frenne, P., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Coomes, D. A., Baeten, L., Verstraeten, G., Vellend, M., . . . Verheyen, K. (2013). Microclimate moderates plant responses to macroclimate warming.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110(46), 18561-18565. doi:10.1073/pnas.1311190110
Rands, M. R., Adams, W. M., Bennun, L., Butchart, S. H., Clements, A., Coomes, D., . . . Vira, B. (2010). Biodiversity conservation: challenges beyond 2010.. Science, 329(5997), 1298-1303. doi:10.1126/science.1189138
Coomes, D. A., Heathcote, S., Godfrey, E. R., Shepherd, J. J., & Sack, L. (2008). Scaling of xylem vessels and veins within the leaves of oak species.. Biol Lett, 4(3), 302-306. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2008.0094