UCL Department of Geography


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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Declan Cooper

Declan Cooper


Department of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing
Gower Street


London NERC DTP Profile:

Professor Simon L. Lewis (UCL Geography)

Professor Richard E. Chandler (UCL Statistical Science)

Professor Mathias Disney (UCL Geography)

Professor Richard Pearson (UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research)

Doctor Martin J. P. Sullivan (Manchester Metropolitan University Natural Sciences)

Funded by:



Current Research

Title: Comparative Ecology of African Tropical Forests

Abstract: Tropical forests play critical roles in the global carbon and water cycles, affect global climate, store the majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, and support the lives of millions. Of the world’s three major tropical forest blocs, African forests are the least understood, despite covering 2 million km2 and comprising the largest carbon sink in intact forests. This PhD will utilise the AfriTRON network of tree phytodemography data from >500 long-term forest inventory plots across 13 African countries, alongside data from tropical forests in Amazonia, Asia and both temperate and boreal forests worldwide, to remedy this shortfall. Specifically, this will be achieved through characterisation of the forest per aboveground biomass, woody productivity, tree mortality, residence time, and diversity, integrated together using species abundance distributions, and related to climate, soils, specimen data and spatial statistics within a Bayesian modelling framework. Through this in-depth characterisation, I hope to deepen our understanding of the role of African tropical forests and that of pan-tropical forests in the Earth system, addressing globally significant issues in forest carbon storage and biodiversity conservation which can be used in the future to assess tropical forests’ resilience to rapid environmental change.



Academic Qualifications

2018 – Present, University College London

London NERC DTP PhD Candidate

2016 – 2017, University College London

MSc Environmental Modelling

MSc Dissertation: ‘Assessing the Impacts of El Niño on African Tropical Forests’

2010 – 2014, University of Sheffield

BSc Mathematics