David Coomes is ‘big brother’ in the forest

Forest ecologist David Coomes will be the keynote speaker at the WUR dies natalis on 11 March, instead of Rory Wilson.
David Coomes. Photo: University of Cambridge

The British scientist will explain how he uses remote sensing and laser scans to ‘spy on’ tropical forests.

The British field ecologist Rory Wilson, a pioneer in tagging wild animals, is unable to speak at the dies for health reasons. Coomes, professor of Forest Ecology and Conservation at the University of Cambridge, will do the honours. The ecologist experiments with new techniques for answering ecological questions, says Martin Herold, professor of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing in Wageningen. Laser scans and spectral techniques, for instance, give Coomes three-dimensional images of tropical forest, so that he can measure how the trees grow, how they compete, and how forest and climate affect each other. Ultimately, he hopes to answer the question why the forest looks the way it does.

Three Wageningen scientists will present their research as well. Lammert Kooistra of Herold’s group will reveal how he monitors the development of marram grass in the Dutch dunes using drones. Jasper Eikelboom of Resource Ecology will talk about how he maps the spatial distribution of animals in African game parks using remote sensing. And Brenda Walles of Wageningen Marine research presents her research on the use of artificial oyster banks as coastal defences in Zeeland.

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