As the late Frank White, one time curator of the Oxford herbaria, pointed out: Ecology, Taxonomy and Chorology (or biogeography) are highly interlinked disciplines, and ideally none of these would be studied in isolation. These days, we would add phylogenetics and bioquality research as research components fundamentally linked in with Frank White's triad.
Ecological work in the herbarium is often linked other these other aspects of plant biodiversity, going back to the Vegetation Map of Africa and the role of the herbarium in the Oxford Forestry Institute.
Frank White, botanist: born Sunderland 5 March 1927; Demonstrator in Forest Botany, Oxford University 1948-55, University Lecturer 1955-94, Curator, Forest Herbarium 1961-92, Curator, Fielding-Druce Herbarium 1971-92, Distinguished Research Curator, Oxford University Herbaria 1992-94; died Oxford 12 September 1994.
Forest management needs to integrate conservation with sustainable use. Bioquality hotspots are candidates for greater conservation effort, but these priorities should not dominate forest management plans. We also research the relationship between plant community composition and forest regeneration.
Regeneration work on Ghanaian forests in the 1990s led to a categorisation of all Ghanaian forest species into ecological guilds. These we still use regularly used today, when we want a first cut division of hundreds of plant species into major ecological divisions, e.g. to study the effects of forest disturbance on the locally useful flora.
In an era where functional ecology, ecosystem services and carbon sequestration are increasingly highlighted, studies on tree form and allometry are needed. Recent research on the impacts of logging, regeneration and tree allometry with which we have been involved include:
We are increasingly involved in research with remote sensing specialists, and are currently researching ways to make better use of these tools for bioquality and ecological assessment, towards an ever more efficient understanding of plant life on our planet. We are also interested in increasing the accuracy of automated species recognition from crowns in remote imagery, for use both in the UK and for species rich tropics.