UCL Department of Geography
Dr Simon Lewis
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Dr Simon Lewis




Department of Geography
University College London 
Pearson Building
Gower Street 

E-Mail: s.l.lewis@ucl.ac.uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7679 0561
Twitter: @simonllewis




Dr Simon Lewis is Reader in Global Change Science at University College London, as a half time position. He holds an equivalent position at the University of Leeds. Simon is also a Royal Society University Research Fellow (2004-present), and in 2011 received a Philip Leverhulme Prize recognising the international impact of his research. He gained a PhD from the University of Cambridge studying in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Simon is a plant ecologist with a central focus on tropics and global environmental change.  His primary interest is in how humans are changing the Earth as a system. This is because one of the key issues facing humanity in the 21st century will be to address how a population of at least 8 billion can lead fulfilled lives without breaching environmental thresholds that may cause serious social, economic and environmental disruption, or even more severe outcomes.

The more specific focus of his research is to gain a synthetic understanding of the recent, current, and likely future compositional and functional trajectory of the tropical forest biome. That is, to understand how and why tropical forests are composed of the tree species that form these forests, understand their important functions, such as how much carbon they store and cycle, and understand how these systems are changing due to local, regional and global environmental changes, and ultimately how they may change in the future. Dr Lewis’ research on tropical forests and climate change has been covered by newspapers, TV and radio worldwide, including the BBC, CNN and the Sun newspaper.  He is regularly asked for comment on tropical forest related science.

Dr Lewis’ research intersects several policy relevant areas, including tropical forests and their deforestation and degradation, climate change, biodiversity conservation, the prospects for indigenous peoples, rural poverty, and the global trade systems for products from tropical lands. Therefore, he is involved in both public understanding of science activities, such as writing newspaper commentary and giving public talks, and engages with policy makers. For example, Simon hit the headlines following a successful campaign to have a misleading article in the Sunday Times removed at the height of poor reporting of climate change-related science following the collapse of the 2009 Copenhagen international negotiations and the release of some climate scientists emails (aka ‘climategate’). On the policy side, Simon assisted drafting of Inter-Academies Panel (IAP) statement on tropical forests and climate change released to coincide with the Copenhagen UN conference on climate change. IAP is a group of 103 national academies of science, including all the G20 countries. Simon has been interviewed on the BBC’s Today program several times, and occasionally contributes science-policy commentary pieces to the Guardian newspaper.

Simon has supervised four successful PhD students, and currently supervises a further four students (three in Leeds). He has 24 successful grant applications from his PhD onwards that funded his PhD, post-doc and fellowship positions, obtained from ten funders including the National Environment Research Council, Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust, Government of Gabon, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, including in Science, Nature and the world’s oldest ongoing scientific journal, Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society. In addition, he has given invited lectures on every inhabited continent.

Dr Lewis founded and co-ordinates the only African network of on-the-ground tropical forests monitoring plots where individual trees are tagged and monitored over time, called AfriTRON (African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network). This requires extensive fieldwork in very remote locations. AfriTRON currently spans 10 countries across tropical Africa, and with its sister network in South America (RAINFOR) consists of >500 locations and >300,000 trees being monitored. They are housed in a data repository, co-founded by Dr Lewis, at www.forestplots.net

You can follow Simon on twitter: @simonllewis



Nine papers with >100 citations on Web of Science; >50 peer-reviewed papers; cites more than once per day; h-index 24.

Published in general science journals

Lewis S.L. (2012). We must set planetary boundaries wisely. Nature, 485, 417-417.

Lewis S.L., Brando P.M., Phillips O.L., van der Heijden G.M.F. & Nepstad D. (2011). The 2010 Amazon Drought. Science, 331, 554-554.

Pan Y.D., Birdsey R.A., Fang J.Y., Houghton R., Kauppi P.E., Kurz W.A., Phillips O.L., Shvidenko A., Lewis S.L., Canadell J.G., Ciais P., Jackson R.B., Pacala S.W., McGuire A.D., Piao S.L., Rautiainen A., Sitch S. & Hayes D. (2011). A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World's Forests. Science, 333, 988-993.

Saatchi S.S., Harris N.L., Brown S., Lefsky M., Mitchard E.T.A., Salas W., Zutta B.R., Buermann W., Lewis S.L., Hagen S., Petrova S., White L., Silman M. & Morel A. (2011). Benchmark map of forest carbon stocks in tropical regions across three continents. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 108, 9899-9904.

Ahrends A., Burgess N.D., Milledge S.A.H., Bulling M.T., Fisher B., Smart J.C.R., Clarke G.P., Mhoro B.E. & Lewis S.L. (2010). Predictable waves of sequential forest degradation and biodiversity loss spreading from an African city. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 107, 14556-14561.

Lewis S.L. (2009). Carbon emissions: the poorest forest dwellers could suffer. Nature, 462, 567-567.

Phillips O.L., Aragao L., Lewis S.L., Fisher J.B., Lloyd J., Lopez-Gonzalez G., Malhi Y., Monteagudo A., Peacock J., Quesada C.A., van der Heijden G., Almeida S., Amaral I., Arroyo L., Aymard G., Baker T.R., Banki O., Blanc L., Bonal D., Brando P., Chave J., de Oliveira A.C.A., Cardozo N.D., Czimczik C.I., Feldpausch T.R., Freitas M.A., Gloor E., Higuchi N., Jimenez E., Lloyd G., Meir P., Mendoza C., Morel A., Neill D.A., Nepstad D., Patino S., Penuela M.C., Prieto A., Ramirez F., Schwarz M., Silva J., Silveira M., Thomas A.S., ter Steege H., Stropp J., Vasquez R., Zelazowski P., Davila E.A., Andelman S., Andrade A., Chao K.J., Erwin T., Di Fiore A., Honorio E., Keeling H., Killeen T.J., Laurance W.F., Cruz A.P., Pitman N.C.A., Vargas P.N., Ramirez-Angulo H., Rudas A., Salamao R., Silva N., Terborgh J. & Torres-Lezama A. (2009). Drought Sensitivity of the Amazon Rainforest. Science, 323, 1344-1347.

Phillips O.L., Lewis S.L., Baker T.R., Chao K.J. & Higuchi N. (2008). The changing Amazon forest. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 363, 1819-1827.

Baker T.R., Phillips O.L., Malhi Y., Almeida S., Arroyo L., Di Fiore A., Erwin T., Higuchi N., Killeen T.J., Laurance S.G., Laurance W.F., Lewis S.L., Monteagudo A., Neill D.A., Vargas P.N., Pitman N.C.A., Silva J.N.M. & Martinez R.V. (2004a). Increasing biomass in Amazonian forest plots. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 359, 353-365.

Lewis S.L., Malhi Y. & Phillips O.L. (2004a). Fingerprinting the impacts of global change on tropical forests. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 359, 437-462.

Lewis S.L., Phillips O.L., Baker T.R., Lloyd J., Malhi Y., Almeida S., Higuchi N., Laurance W.F., Neill D.A., Silva J.N.M., Terborgh J., Lezama A.T., Martinez R.V., Brown S., Chave J., Kuebler C., Vargas P.N. & Vinceti B. (2004b). Concerted changes in tropical forest structure and dynamics: evidence from 50 South American long-term plots. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 359, 421-436.

Phillips O.L., Baker T.R., Arroyo L., Higuchi N., Killeen T.J., Laurance W.F., Lewis S.L., Lloyd J., Malhi Y., Monteagudo A., Neill D.A., Vargas P.N., Silva J.N.M., Terborgh J., Martinez R.V., Alexiades M., Almeida S., Brown S., Chave J., Comiskey J.A., Czimczik C.I., Di Fiore A., Erwin T., Kuebler C., Laurance S.G., Nascimento H.E.M., Olivier J., Palacios W., Patino S., Pitman N.C.A., Quesada C.A., Salidas M., Lezama A.T. & Vinceti B. (2004). Pattern and process in Amazon tree turnover, 1976-2001. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 359, 381-407.

Published and ‘in press’ specialist journals 2012

Banin, L., Feldpausch, T. R., Phillips, O. L., Baker, T. R., Lloyd, J., Affum-Baffoe, K., Arets, E. J. M. M., Berry, N. J., Bradford, M., Brienen, R. J. W., Davies, S., Drescher, M., Higuchi, N., Hilbert, D. W., Hladik, A., Iida, Y., Salim, K. A., Kassim, A. R., King, D. A., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Metcalfe, D., Nilus, R., Peh, K. S.-H., Reitsma, J. M., Sonké, B., Taedoumg, H., Tan, S., White, L., Wöll, H. & Lewis, S. L. (2012). What controls tropical forest architecture? Testing environmental, structural and floristic drivers. Global Ecology and Biogeography, doi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2012.00778.x

Dick, C.W., Lewis, S.L., Maslin, M, Bermingham, E. (2012). Genetic evidence for warmth tolerance of Amazon tree species. Ecology & Evolution, In press

Galbraith, D., Malhi, Y., Castanho, A.D.A., Quesada, C.A., Doughty, C.E., Peh, K. S-H., Affum-Baffoe, K., Lewis S.L., Sonké B., Phillips, O.L., Fisher, R.A., & Lloyd, J. (2012). The residence time of woody biomass in tropical forests. Plant Ecology & Diversity, In press

Mitchard E.T.A., Saatchi S.S., White L.J.T., Abernethy K.A., Jeffery K.J., Lewis S.L., Collins M., Lefsky M.A., Leal M.E., Woodhouse I.H. & Meir P. (2012). Mapping tropical forest biomass with radar and spaceborne LiDAR in Lope National Park, Gabon: overcoming problems of high biomass and persistent cloud. Biogeosciences, 9, 179-191.

Peh K.S.H. & Lewis S.L. (2012). Conservation implications of recent advances in biodiversity-functioning research. Biological Conservation, 151, 26-31.

Peh K.S.H., Sonke B., Taedoung H., Sene O., Lloyd J. & Lewis S.L. (2012). Investigating diversity dependence of tropical forest litter decomposition: experiments and observations from Central Africa. Journal of Vegetation Science, 23, 223-235.


Published in specialist journals 2011

Feldpausch T.R., Banin L., Phillips O.L., Baker T.R., Lewis S.L., Quesada C.A., Affum-Baffoe K., Arets E., Berry N.J., Bird M., Brondizio E.S., de Camargo P., Chave J., Djagbletey G., Domingues T.F., Drescher M., Fearnside P.M., Franca M.B., Fyllas N.M., Lopez-Gonzalez G., Hladik A., Higuchi N., Hunter M.O., Iida Y., Salim K.A., Kassim A.R., Keller M., Kemp J., King D.A., Lovett J.C., Marimon B.S., Marimon B.H., Lenza E., Marshall A.R., Metcalfe D.J., Mitchard E.T.A., Moran E.F., Nelson B.W., Nilus R., Nogueira E.M., Palace M., Patino S., Peh K.S.H., Raventos M.T., Reitsma J.M., Saiz G., Schrodt F., Sonke B., Taedoumg H.E., Tan S., White L., Woll H. & Lloyd J. (2011). Height-diameter allometry of tropical forest trees. Biogeosciences, 8, 1081-1106.

Fisher B., Lewis S.L., Burgess N.D., Malimbwi R.E., Munishi P.K., Swetnam R.D., Turner R.K., Willcock S. & Balmford A. (2011a). Implementation and opportunity costs of reducing deforestation and forest degradation in Tanzania. Nature Climate Change, 1, 161-164.

Fisher B., Lewis S.L., Burgess N.D., Malimbwi R.E., Munishi P.K., Swetnam R.D., Turner R.K., Willcock S. & Balmford A. (2011b). Implementation and opportunity costs of reducing deforestation and forest degradation in Tanzania (vol 1, pg 161, 2011). Nature Climate Change, 1, 224-224.

Kattge J., Diaz S., Lavorel S., Prentice C., Leadley P., Bonisch G., Garnier E., Westoby M., Reich P.B., Wright I.J., Cornelissen J.H.C., Violle C., Harrison S.P., van Bodegom P.M., Reichstein M., Enquist B.J., Soudzilovskaia N.A., Ackerly D.D., Anand M., Atkin O., Bahn M., Baker T.R., Baldocchi D., Bekker R., Blanco C.C., Blonder B., Bond W.J., Bradstock R., Bunker D.E., Casanoves F., Cavender-Bares J., Chambers J.Q., Chapin F.S., Chave J., Coomes D., Cornwell W.K., Craine J.M., Dobrin B.H., Duarte L., Durka W., Elser J., Esser G., Estiarte M., Fagan W.F., Fang J., Fernandez-Mendez F., Fidelis A., Finegan B., Flores O., Ford H., Frank D., Freschet G.T., Fyllas N.M., Gallagher R.V., Green W.A., Gutierrez A.G., Hickler T., Higgins S.I., Hodgson J.G., Jalili A., Jansen S., Joly C.A., Kerkhoff A.J., Kirkup D., Kitajima K., Kleyer M., Klotz S., Knops J.M.H., Kramer K., Kuhn I., Kurokawa H., Laughlin D., Lee T.D., Leishman M., Lens F., Lenz T., Lewis S.L., Lloyd J., Llusia J., Louault F., Ma S., Mahecha M.D., Manning P., Massad T., Medlyn B.E., Messier J., Moles A.T., Muller S.C., Nadrowski K., Naeem S., Niinemets U., Nollert S., Nuske A., Ogaya R., Oleksyn J., Onipchenko V.G., Onoda Y., Ordonez J., Overbeck G., Ozinga W.A., Patino S., Paula S., Pausas J.G., Penuelas J., Phillips O.L., Pillar V., Poorter H., Poorter L., Poschlod P., Prinzing A., Proulx R., Rammig A., Reinsch S., Reu B., Sack L., Salgado-Negre B., Sardans J., Shiodera S., Shipley B., Siefert A., Sosinski E., Soussana J.F., Swaine E., Swenson N., Thompson K., Thornton P., Waldram M., Weiher E., White M., White S., Wright S.J., Yguel B., Zaehle S., Zanne A.E. & Wirth C. (2011). TRY - a global database of plant traits. Global Change Biology, 17, 2905-2935.

Lopez-Gonzalez G., Lewis S.L., Burkitt M. & Phillips O.L. (2011). ForestPlots.net: a web application and research tool to manage and analyse tropical forest plot data. Journal of Vegetation Science, 22, 610-613.

Mitchard E.T.A., Saatchi S.S., Lewis S.L., Feldpausch T.R., Gerard F.F., Woodhouse I.H. & Meir P. (2011a). Comment on 'A first map of tropical Africa's above-ground biomass derived from satellite imagery'. Environ. Res. Lett., 6.

Mitchard E.T.A., Saatchi S.S., Lewis S.L., Feldpausch T.R., Woodhouse I.H., Sonke B., Rowland C. & Meir P. (2011b). Measuring biomass changes due to woody encroachment and deforestation/degradation in a forest-savanna boundary region of central Africa using multi-temporal L-band radar backscatter. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 2861-2873.

Parmentier I., Harrigan R.J., Buermann W., Mitchard E.T.A., Saatchi S., Malhi Y., Bongers F., Hawthorne W.D., Leal M.E., Lewis S.L., Nusbaumer L., Sheil D., Sosef M.S.M., Affum-Baffoe K., Bakayoko A., Chuyong G.B., Chatelain C., Comiskey J.A., Dauby G., Doucet J.L., Fauset S., Gautier L., Gillet J.F., Kenfack D., Kouame F.N., Kouassi E.K., Kouka L.A., Parren M.P.E., Peh K.S.H., Reitsma J.M., Senterre B., Sonke B., Sunderland T.C.H., Swaine M.D., Tchouto M.G.P., Thomas D., Van Valkenburg J. & Hardy O.J. (2011). Predicting alpha diversity of African rain forests: models based on climate and satellite-derived data do not perform better than a purely spatial model. Journal of Biogeography, 38, 1164-1176.

Peh K.S.H., Lewis S.L. & Lloyd J. (2011a). Mechanisms of monodominance in diverse tropical tree-dominated systems. Journal of Ecology, 99, 891-898.

Peh K.S.H., Sonke B., Lloyd J., Quesada C.A. & Lewis S.L. (2011b). Soil Does Not Explain Monodominance in a Central African Tropical Forest. Plos One, 6.

Shirima D.D., Munishi P.K.T., Lewis S.L., Burgess N.D., Marshall A.R., Balmford A., Swetnam R.D. & Zahabu E.M. (2011). Carbon storage, structure and composition of miombo woodlands in Tanzania's Eastern Arc Mountains. African Journal of Ecology, 49, 332-342.

Swetnam R.D., Fisher B., Mbilinyi B.P., Munishi P.K.T., Willcock S., Ricketts T., Mwakalila S., Balmford A., Burgess N.D., Marshall A.R. & Lewis S.L. (2011). Mapping socio-economic scenarios of land cover change: A GIS method to enable ecosystem service modelling. Journal of Environmental Management, 92, 563-574.


Published in specialist journals 2010

Djuikouo M.N.K., Doucet J.L., Nguembou C.K., Lewis S.L. & Sonke B. (2010). Diversity and aboveground biomass in three tropical forest types in the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon. African Journal of Ecology, 48, 1053-1063.

Berry N.J., Phillips O.L., Lewis S.L., Hill J.K., Edwards D.P., Tawatao N.B., Ahmad N., Magintan D., Khen C.V., Maryati M., Ong R.C. & Hamer K.C. (2010). The high value of logged tropical forests: lessons from northern Borneo. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19, 985-997.

Burgess N.D., Bahane B., Clairs T., Danielsen F., Dalsgaard S., Funder M., Hagelberg N., Harrison P., Haule C., Kabalimu K., Kilahama F., Kilawe E., Lewis S.L., Lovett J.C., Lyatuu G., Marshall A.R., Meshack C., Miles L., Milledge S.A.H., Munishi P.K.T., Nashanda E., Shirima D., Swetnam R.D., Willcock S., Williams A. & Zahabu E. (2010). Getting ready for REDD plus in Tanzania: a case study of progress and challenges. Oryx, 44, 339-351.

Doherty R.M., Sitch S., Smith B., Lewis S.L. & Thornton P.K. (2010). Implications of future climate and atmospheric CO2 content for regional biogeochemistry, biogeography and ecosystem services across East Africa. Global Change Biology, 16, 617-640.


Published in specialist journals 2009

Baker T.R., Phillips O.L., Laurance W.F., Pitman N.C.A., Almeida S., Arroyo L., DiFiore A., Erwin T., Higuchi N., Killeen T.J., Laurance S.G., Nascimento H., Monteagudo A., Neill D.A., Silva J.N.M., Malhi Y., Gonzalez G.L., Peacock J., Quesada C.A., Lewis S.L. & Lloyd J. (2009). Do species traits determine patterns of wood production in Amazonian forests? Biogeosciences, 6, 297-307.

Chave J., Coomes D., Jansen S., Lewis S.L., Swenson N.G. & Zanne A.E. (2009). Towards a worldwide wood economics spectrum. Ecology Letters, 12, 351-366.

Gloor M., Phillips O.L., Lloyd J.J., Lewis S.L., Malhi Y., Baker T.R., Lopez-Gonzalez G., Peacock J., Almeida S., de Oliveira A.C.A., Alvarez E., Amaral I., Arroyo L., Aymard G., Banki O., Blanc L., Bonal D., Brando P., Chao K.J., Chave J., Davila N., Erwin T., Silva J., Di Fiore A., Feldpausch T.R., Freitas A., Herrera R., Higuchi N., Honorio E., Jimenez E., Killeen T., Laurance W., Mendoza C., Monteagudo A., Andrade A., Neill D., Nepstad D., Vargas P.N., Penuela M.C., Cruz A.P., Prieto A., Pitman N., Quesada C., Salomao R., Silveira M., Schwarz M., Stropp J., Ramirez F., Ramirez H., Rudas A., ter Steege H., Silva N., Torres A., Terborgh J., Vasquez R. & van der Heijden G. (2009). Does the disturbance hypothesis explain the biomass increase in basin-wide Amazon forest plot data? Global Change Biology, 15, 2418-2430.

Lewis S.L., Lloyd J., Sitch S., Mitchard E.T.A. & Laurance W.F. (2009a). Changing Ecology of Tropical Forests: Evidence and Drivers. In: Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics, pp. 529-549.

Lewis S.L., Lopez-Gonzalez G., Sonke B., Affum-Baffoe K., Baker T.R., Ojo L.O., Phillips O.L., Reitsma J.M., White L., Comiskey J.A., Djuikouo M.N., Ewango C.E.N., Feldpausch T.R., Hamilton A.C., Gloor M., Hart T., Hladik A., Lloyd J., Lovett J.C., Makana J.R., Malhi Y., Mbago F.M., Ndangalasi H.J., Peacock J., Peh K.S.H., Sheil D., Sunderland T., Swaine M.D., Taplin J., Taylor D., Thomas S.C., Votere R. & Woll H. (2009b). Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests. Nature, 457, 1003-U3.

Lloyd J., Gloor E.U. & Lewis S.L. (2009). Are the dynamics of tropical forests dominated by large and rare disturbance events? Ecology Letters, 12, E19-E21.

Malhi Y., Wood D., Baker T.R., Wright J., Phillips O.L., Cochrane T., Meir P., Chave J., Almeida S., Arroyo L., Higuchi N., Killeen T.J., Laurance S.G., Laurance W.F., Lewis S.L., Monteagudo A., Neill D.A., Vargas P.N., Pitman N.C.A., Quesada C.A., Salomao R., Silva J.N.M., Lezama A.T., Terborgh J., Martinez R.V. & Vinceti B. (2006). The regional variation of aboveground live biomass in old-growth Amazonian forests. Global Change Biology, 12, 1107-1138.

Mitchard E.T.A., Saatchi S.S., Gerard F.F., Lewis S.L. & Meir P. (2009). Measuring Woody Encroachment along a Forest-Savanna Boundary in Central Africa. Earth Interactions, 13.

Phillips O.L., van der Heijden G., Lewis S.L., Lopez-Gonzalez G., Aragao L., Lloyd J., Malhi Y., Monteagudo A., Almeida S., Davila E.A., Amaral I., Andelman S., Andrade A., Arroyo L., Aymard G., Baker T.R., Blanc L., Bonal D., de Oliveira A.C.A., Chao K.J., Cardozo N.D., da Costa L., Feldpausch T.R., Fisher J.B., Fyllas N.M., Freitas M.A., Galbraith D., Gloor E., Higuchi N., Honorio E., Jimenez E., Keeling H., Killeen T.J., Lovett J.C., Meir P., Mendoza C., Morel A., Vargas P.N., Patino S., Peh K.S.H., Cruz A.P., Prieto A., Quesada C.A., Ramirez F., Ramirez H., Rudas A., Salamao R., Schwarz M., Silva J., Silveira M., Slik J.W.F., Sonke B., Thomas A.S., Stropp J., Taplin J.R.D., Vasquez R. & Vilanova E. (2010). Drought-mortality relationships for tropical forests. New Phytologist, 187, 631-646.


Published in specialist journals 2008

Taylor D., Hamilton A.C., Lewis S.L. & Nantale G. (2008). Thirty-eight years of change in a tropical forest: plot data from Mpanga Forest Reserve, Uganda. African Journal of Ecology, 46, 655-667.


Published in specialist journals 2007

Parmentier I., Malhi Y., Senterre B., Whittaker R.J., Alonso A., Balinga M.P.B., Bakayoko A., Bongers F., Chatelain C., Comiskey J.A., Cortay R., Kamdem M.N.D., Doucet J.L., Gautier L., Hawthorne W.D., Issembe Y.A., Kouame F.N., Kouka L.A., Leal M.E., Lejoly J., Lewis S.L., Nusbaumer L., Parren M.P.E., Peh K.S.H., Phillips O.L., Sheil D., Sonke B., Sosef M.S.M., Sunderland T.C.H., Stropp J., Ter Steege H., Swaine M.D., Tchouto M.G.P., van Gemerden B.S., van Valkenburg J. & Woll H. (2007). The odd man out? Might climate explain the lower tree alpha-diversity of African rain forests relative to Amazonian rain forests? Journal of Ecology, 95, 1058-1071.

Peacock J., Baker T.R., Lewis S.L., Lopez-Gonzalez G. & Phillips O.L. (2007). The RAINFOR database: monitoring forest biomass and dynamics. Journal of Vegetation Science, 18, 535-542.


Published in specialist journals 2006

Lewis S.L. (2006). Tropical forests and the changing earth system. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 361, 195-210.

Lewis S.L., Phillips O.L. & Baker T.R. (2006). Impacts of global atmospheric change on tropical forests. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 21, 173-174.


Published in specialist journals 2004

Baker T.R., Phillips O.L., Malhi Y., Almeida S., Arroyo L., Di Fiore A., Erwin T., Killeen T.J., Laurance S.G., Laurance W.F., Lewis S.L., Lloyd J., Monteagudo A., Neill D.A., Patino S., Pitman N.C.A., Silva J.N.M. & Martinez R.V. (2004b). Variation in wood density determines spatial patterns in Amazonian forest biomass. Global Change Biology, 10, 545-562.

Lewis S.L., Phillips O.L., Sheil D., Vinceti B., Baker T.R., Brown S., Graham A.W., Higuchi N., Hilbert D.W., Laurance W.F., Lejoly J., Malhi Y., Monteagudo A., Vargas P.N., Sonke B., Supardi N., Terborgh J.W. & Martinez R.V. (2004c). Tropical forest tree mortality, recruitment and turnover rates: calculation, interpretation and comparison when census intervals vary. Journal of Ecology, 92, 929-944.

Malhi Y., Baker T.R., Phillips O.L., Almeida S., Alvarez E., Arroyo L., Chave J., Czimczik C.I., Di Fiore A., Higuchi N., Killeen T.J., Laurance S.G., Laurance W.F., Lewis S.L., Montoya L.M.M., Monteagudo A., Neill D.A., Vargas P.N., Patino S., Pitman N.C.A., Quesada C.A., Salomao R., Silva J.N.M., Lezama A.T., Martinez R.V., Terborgh J., Vinceti B. & Lloyd J. (2004). The above-ground coarse wood productivity of 104 Neotropical forest plots. Global Change Biology, 10, 563-591.


Published in specialist journals 2002

Malhi Y., Phillips O.L., Lloyd J., Baker T., Wright J., Almeida S., Arroyo L., Frederiksen T., Grace J., Higuchi N., Killeen T., Laurance W.F., Leano C., Lewis S., Meir P., Monteagudo A., Neill D., Vargas P.N., Panfil S.N., Patino S., Pitman N., Quesada C.A., Rudas-Ll A., Salomao R., Saleska S., Silva N., Silveira M., Sombroek W.G., Valencia R., Martinez R.V., Vieira I.C.G. & Vinceti B. (2002). An international network to monitor the structure, composition and dynamics of Amazonian forests (RAINFOR). Journal of Vegetation Science, 13, 439-450.

Phillips O.L., Malhi Y., Vinceti B., Baker T., Lewis S.L., Higuchi N., Laurance W.F., Vargas P.N., Martinez R.V., Laurance S., Ferreira L.V., Stern M., Brown S. & Grace J. (2002a). Changes in growth of tropical forests: Evaluating potential biases. Ecological Applications, 12, 576-587.

Phillips O.L., Martinez R.V., Arroyo L., Baker T.R., Killeen T., Lewis S.L., Malhi Y., Mendoza A.M., Neill D., Vargas P.N., Alexiades M., Ceron C., Di Fiore A., Erwin T., Jardim A., Palacios W., Saldias M. & Vinceti B. (2002b). Increasing dominance of large lianas in Amazonian forests. Nature, 418, 770-774.


Published in specialist journals 2000

Lewis S.L. & Tanner E.V.J. (2000). Effects of above- and belowground competition on growth and survival of rain forest tree seedlings. Ecology, 81, 2525-2538.



  1. Phillips O.L., Higuchi N., Vieira S., Baker T.R., Chao K.J., Lewis S.L. (2009) Recent changes in Amazon forest biomass, dynamics, and composition. In Amazonia and Global Change. Editors: Keller M, Gash J, Dias PS.
  2. Lewis, S.L., Phillips, O.L. & Baker, T.R. (2007) Impacts of Global Change on the Structure, Dynamics and Function of South American Tropical Forests. Pages 15-31. In Emerging Threats to Tropical Forests (eds W. F. Laurance & C. A. Peres). Chicago University Press.
  3. Phillips O.L., Lewis SL, Baker T.R., Malhi Y. (2007) The response of South American tropical forests to contemporary atmospheric change. In Tropical Rain Forest Responses to Climate Change . Editors: Bush M, Flenley J. 317-332. Springer.
  4. Lewis, S.L., Phillips, O.L., Baker, T.R., Malhi, Y. & Lloyd, J. (2006). Tropical forests & Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Current Conditions and Future Scenarios. Pages 147-153. In Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (eds H. J. Schellnhuber, W. Cramer, N. Nakicenovic, T. Wigley, and G. Yohe). Cambridge University Press, UK.
  5. Phillips, O.L., Lewis, S.L., Baker, T.R., and Malhi, Y.  (2006). The response of South American tropical forests to contemporary atmospheric change.  Pages 317-332. In Tropical Rain Forest Responses to Climate Change (eds M. Bush, J. Flenley).  Praxis Publishing, Springer-Praxis, London.
  6. Lewis, S.L., Malhi, Y. & Phillips, O.L. (2005) Predicting the impacts of global environmental changes on tropical forests. Pages 41-56. In Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change (eds O. Phillips & Y. Malhi). Oxford University Press, UK.
  7. Lewis, S.L., Phillips, O.L., Baker, T. R., Lloyd, J., Malhi, Y., Almeida, S., Higuchi, N., Laurance, W. F., Neill, D., Silva, N., Terborgh, J., Torres-Lezama, A., Brown, S., Chave, J., Kuebler, C., Nunez, P., Vasquez, M.R. & Vinceti, B. (2005) Late twentieth century trends in the structure and dynamics of South American forests. Pp 143-154. In Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change (eds O. Phillips & Y. Malhi). Oxford University Press, UK.
  8. Phillips, O.L., Baker, T.R., Arroyo, L., Higuchi, N., Killeen, T., Laurance, W.F., Lewis, S.L., Lloyd, J.J., Malhi, Y., Monteagudo, A., Neill, D., Nunez Vargas, P., Silva, N., Terborgh J., Vasquez, M., Alexiades, M., Almeida, S., Brown, S., Chave J., Comiskey, J., Czimczik, C., Di Fiore, A., Erwin, T., Kuebler C., Laurance, S.G., Nascimento, H.E.M., Olivier, J., Palacios, W., Patino, S., Pitman, N., Quesada C.A., Saldias, M., Torres Lezama, A. (2005) Late twentieth-century patterns and trends in Amazon tree turnover. Pages 107-128. In: Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change (eds Y. Malhi, O.L. Philips). Oxford University Press.
  9. Baker, T.R., Phillips, O.L., Malhi, Y., Almeida, S., Arroyo, L., Di Fiore, A., Erwin, T., Higuchi, N., Killeen, T.J., Laurance, S.G., Laurance, W.F., Lewis, S.L., Monteagudo, A., Neill, D.A., Vargas, P.N., Pitman, N., Silva, N.M., Martinez, R.V. (2005) Late twentieth-century trends in the biomass of Amazonian forest plots. Pages 129-142. In Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change (eds Y. Malhi, O.L. Philips). Oxford University Press.




    Research Impact

    My research includes major contributions to networks of long-term tropical forest inventory plots, which now constitute a pan-tropical on-the-ground observatory of tropical forests. This is an international networks of scientists (from >50 institutions, >250 participants and >30 nations) using standardised methods developed, honed and propagated across the tropics. This enables, for the first time, the use of on-the-ground observations to make a direct evaluation of the role of tropical forests in the global carbon cycle and to assess their sensitivity to climate change (Lewis et al. 2009; Nature; Phillips et al. 2009, Science; Lewis et al. 2011, Science; Pan et al. 2011 Science). As well as having a major impact on international debates on the future trajectory of climate change and appropriate policy responses, this work is influencing national-scale efforts across the tropics to monitor forests in the face of climate change and to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation. Various research impacts are summarised below.

    African Tropical Rainforest Observatory Network (AfriTRON): Dr Lewis founded and co-manages a network of long-term inventory plots across 12 countries in tropical Africa (Lewis et al. 2013, Phil. Trans B.). This network has contributed to forest management in Gabon, for which Dr Lewis was a technical advisor to the government of Gabon, at the UN climate change talks in 2009 (Copenhagen), 2010 (Cancun), and contributed data to Le Plan Climate National [The National Climate Plan] of Gabon. Additionally, Lewis acted as a technical advisor to the government of Gabon at the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) to discuss how carbon storage and carbon fluxes in the Congo Basin should be monitored. Currently, Lewis alongside John Poulsen (Duke University) and Sassan Saatchi (NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, UCLA) are assisting the government of Gabon in a national forest monitoring program. Dr Lewis was also an external consultant for Centre for International Forestry planning phase of the pan-tropical USD100 million ‘Sentinal Landscapes’ program. http://www.afritron.net

    Forestplots.net: This is a global repository for long-term forest inventory data, co-founded with Prof Oliver Phillips, Dr Tim Baker and Dr Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez (all University of Leeds). Extracted data has been used in >50 publications, resulting in >1000 articles across print, TV and radio worldwide. Contained within the foresplots.net database is the global wood density database, co-created by Lewis (led by Amy Zanne, George Washington University), itself the most downloaded dataset on the datadryad repository. http://www.forestplots.net

    GEOCARBON:  This is a project to develop a global carbon observing and analysis system to integrate in situ (ground monitoring) measurements, with atmospheric measurements and models to monitor the emissions of carbon from human activity, with the stores and fluxes of carbon in the atmosphere and across the world’s land surface and oceans to give a comprehensive understanding of the global carbon cycle and how humans have perturbed it. The AfriTRON plot network contributes to GEOCARBON. This EU funded Euro8.8million project is a precursor to an operational global monitoring system. http://www.geocarbon.net

    Public policy: While it is the job of society generally to determine policy positions, politicians to formally define agreed rules, and citizens and the judiciary to hold politicians to account, scientists can contribute to societal debates via timely information to assist the public in their decisions. Dr Lewis has contributed to this, for example, back in 2005 the UK government distributed a paper of his on tropical forests and avoiding dangerous climate change to other countries at the UN climate talks in Montreal (published as Lewis et al. 2006, in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, Edited by Schellnhuber et al.). In 2009, Dr Lewis contributed to drafting the InterAcademies Panel (the global network of science academies) on tropical forests and climate change (http://www.interacademies.net/File.aspx?id=10070). More recently he published a short piece in response to the UN Rio+20 conference on some of the difficulties of deciding on and implementing planetary boundaries (Lewis 2012 http://www.nature.com/news/we-must-set-planetary-boundaries-wisely-1.10694). Dr Lewis also spend a week in the European Parliament shadowing an MEP (Linda McAvan) to learn about how policy-makers do their work. Dr Lewis serves on the Conservation Committee of the Association for Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation, the world’s largest scientific society focusing on tropical biodiversity. The committee releases timely reports to assist choices when specific policies, projects or activities may negatively impact biodiversity and the people who directly rely on it.

    Media: Dr Lewis is regularly asked for comment on climate change, tropical forests, and scientific research more generally. Has his research and opinions have been reported by The Australian, BBC Radio 4 Today program, BBC 1- O’Clock News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, BBC 5 Live, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CNN, The Ecologist, Financial Times, Guardian, New Scientist, New York Times, Folha de São Paulo (Brazil), Red Pepper, The Telegraph, The Times and other newspapers worldwide. For example see, http://www.theecologist.org/Interviews/899516/dr_simon_lewis_were_playing_russian_roulette_with_a_large_portion_of_the_amazon.html. Lewis has also fought shoddy reporting standards in the past, http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101103/full/468007a.html. Lewis also occasionally contributes commentary pieces for The Guardian.  For example, see: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/jul/23/climate-change-humanity-change

    Public lectures: Dr Lewis has given lectures at as diverse locations as the Natural History Museum, as part of the Sebastião Salgado ‘Genesis’ exhibition (2013 on Science and exploration), the British Film Institute (2010, on Gaia theory), the ‘Reclaim the Power’ anti-fracking protest camp at Balcombe (2013, basics of climate change science), and in front of hundreds of riot police at the Camp for Climate Action protest outside the European Carbon Exchange (2009, basics of climate change science).

    Dr Lewis was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2011 in recognition of the international impact of his research.

    Selected commentary and news coverage

    Psy.org (2012) Biodiversity proects tropical rainforest from drought, 30 August. Reports on impacts of drought on African tropical forests.

    Lewis S.L. (2012). We must set planetary boundaries wisely. Nature, 485, 417-417.

    Metro (2012). Stopping the sands of time, 19 Jan. SL comment on plan to plant forests in Africa

    BBC News website (2012) Africa's rainforests 'more resilient' to climate change, 6 Jan. SL Comment

    Telegraph (2012). Climategate 2? More UEA hacked emails, 23 November. SL Comment

    Lewis, S. L. (2011) Lack of agreement on climate change helps no one, Guardian, 23 November. Letter

    BBC News website (2011) 'No substitute' for virgin forest, including SL comment about land-sparing to protect biodiversity, 15 September.

    Telegraph (2011) 'World's forests absorb almost 40 per cent of man-made CO2.' Report Pan et al. Science paper), 18 August 2011

    Lewis, S. L. (2011) Climate change for media diversity, Guardian, 13 July. Letter

    Independent (2011) China’s power stations generate ‘future spike’ in global warming. SL comment on relative roles or aerosols & CO2, 5 July.

    Ecologist Magazine (2011) Long interview on recent Amazon droughts, 27 May 2011

    Economist (2011) Welcome to the Anthropocene 26 May 2011. SL comment.

    BBC Today Program (2011). Live interview on slowing deforestation without increasing rural poverty, May 30.

    Ecoamericas Magasine (2011), long interview on Amazon drought, April 2011

    Alliaz Insurance (2011), interview for Allianz.com website, 18 March.

    National Public Radio (2011) Report on Amazon 2010 drought, 7 February 2011.

    BBC 10 O’clock News, 3 Feb 2011, report on Lewis et al. Amazon 2010 drought paper

    SkyNews (2011) CO2 fears after Amazon rainforest drought 3 Feb 2011, report on Lewis et al. Amazon 2010 drought paper

    The Independent (2011) P1 main story plus editorial, on Lewis et al. Amazon 2010 drought paper, 4 February.

    The Guardian (2011) P23, full page on Lewis et al. Amazon 2010 drought paper, 4 February.

    The Sun (2011) P11, Short piece on Lewis et al. Amazon 2010 drought paper, 4 February.

    BBC Radio 5 live. SL on afternoon drive-time radio, interview on Amazon drought, 3 February
    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio 1. SL interview on Amazon drought, 3 February.

    Economist (2010) Seeing the world for the trees. 16 December. SL Comment

    Lewis S.L. (2010). How to beat the media in the climate street fight. Nature, 468, 7-7.

    George Monbiot (2010) Sunday Times admits ‘Amazongate’ story was rubbish. But who’s to blame. 24 June. About SL.

    Roy Greenslade (2010) Sunday Times ‘correction’ was a giant climbdown, 21 June. About SL.

    New York Times (2010) British newspaper apologies to climate scientist. 20 June. About SL, SL comment.

    Sunday Times (2010). Retraction of article citing Lewis. P2, 20 June. About SL.

    Lewis S. L. (2010). How fear of bias dominates the climate change debate. The Guardian, 10 October.

    Lewis S. L. (2010). Yes we can change society before global crises overwhelm us. The Guardian, 14 March.

    New York Times (2010). P1, report including SL comments on mis-reporting in the UK press on climate change.

    Guardian (2010) Forests expert officially complains about ‘distorted’ Sunday Times article, 24 March.

    Radio 4 Today (2010), SL commenting about an alleged Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change mistake relating to the vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest to climate change-induced drought. 30 Jan.

    Sunday Times (2010), report the opposite of my views on the IPCC and Amazon rainforest vulnerability to climate change induced droughts, 31 January.

    The Times (2009), SL comment about oil palm plantations and destruction of tropical forests in Asia, 11 December.

    Lewis S.L. (2009) Copenhagen: time to stop the finger-pointing, Guardian, 28 December, letter.

    Lewis S.L. (2009). A force of Nature: our influential Anthropocene period. Guardian, 24 July.

    Lewis S.L. (2009). Scientists on the streets. Guardian, 10 March.

    Lewis S.L. (2009). Will clean coal clean up our climate? Guardian, 27 April 2009, letter.

    Sunday Times (2009) Plants buy Earth more time as CO2 makes them grow faster. 5 April.

    Guardian (2009) Climate change transforming rainforest into major carbon emitters, warn scientists, 11 March.

    Guardian (2009) Firth of world carbon emissions soaked up by extra forest growth, 18 February. Report on Lewis et al. 2009 African tropical forest carbon sink paper in Nature.

    Guardian (2009) Folly and foibles of the Heathrow decision., 19, January. Letter.

    Lewis S.L. (2008). A dangerous untruth. Guardian, 1 August.

    Lewis S.L. (2008). It’s time for a body count. Guardian, 26 February.

    Reuters (2007). Scientists warn on biofuel as palm oil price jumps, 31 May. SL comment.




    Year 1

    1002 Environmental Systems and Processes

    Year 2

    2001 Practice of Geography

    2007 Ecological Patterns and Process



    Lectures on biodiversity impacts of climate change

    MSc dissertation supervision (Conservation, Climate Change programs)

    My office hours for students are 2-4 pm Monday’s and Tuesday’s

    PhD Students


    Charlotte Wheeler. Funded by a NERC CASE studentship, in partnership with Permian Global. Project title, ‘Designing tropical forests of the future.’

    Biodiversity Forum

    UCL Biodiversity Forum and Seminar Series

    4 pm, Tuesday 18st February 2014. Biodiversity Responses to Climate Change
    This month we have two speakers on climate change and biodiversity, from deep time and contemporary change perspectives:
    1. Anjali Goswami (GEE), "Deep time mammals: diversity, shape space and climate"
    2. Richard Pearson (CBER), "Assessing extinction risk due to climate change"
    There is space for a third speaker, if anyone feels inclined.

    Room: Taviton (16) 432, from 4pm, with the room booked unit 6pm. All welcome.
    More info:
    UCL Biodiversity Forum and Seminar Series, 2013-2014
    There are a large number of researchers at UCL working on biodiversity-related topics, across Geography, the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER), the Environment Institute, Earth Sciences, Anthropology, the Energy Institute, Archaeology, Genetics, Evolution and Environment (GEE) and others. The Biodiversity Forum and Seminar Series is a chance to talk across departments and faculty, to foster greater collaboration (particularly now the NERC DTP is funded which can facilitate cross-departmental PhD projects).
    The forum met for the first time on Tuesday 19th November, and meets on the third Tuesday of every Month, at 4pm, room 432, No. 16 Taviston Road (fourth floor, UCL School of Slavonic Studies building), or occasionally other nearby rooms within the same building. The Forum is intended for post-docs and staff as well as masters and PhD students who have an interest in biodiversity, very broadly defined, from discovering new species to policy impacts on biodiversity, and spanning the past, present and future of biodiversity.
    Usually there will be three speakers, each giving 10-15 minute presentations around a broad theme. Most months have only two people booked so far, so if you would like to speak, please email Dr Simon Lewis (Geography, s.l.lewis@ucl.ac.uk). PhD students and post-docs are encourage to present their work within the upcoming themes.
    Refreshments provided. The idea is that having the forum at 4pm means those who have to leave at 5pm can, but those that want to chat, can continue.
    4 pm March 18th 2014. Biofuels and Biodiversity
    4 pm Tuesday 15 April 2014. Biodiversity & Geo-engineering
    Please pass this message round your networks, and feel free to suggest topics and speakers for May and beyond.





    Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Lewis, S.L., Phillips, O.L., Burkitt, M. Tropical forest inventory plots database. https://www.forestplots.net

    Zanne, A.E., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Coomes, D.A., Ilic, J., Jansen, S., Lewis, S.L., Miller, R.B., Swenson, N.G., Wiemann, M.C., and Chave, J. 2009. Global wood density database. Dryad. http://hdl.handle.net/10255/dryad.235