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Burslem, David F.R.P

David Burslem is a tropical forest ecologist with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He worked with the late Dr. T.C. Whitmore on the long-term study of rainforest plots in Kolobangara, and has published a number of studies of rainforest ecology in the Western Solomons. David Burslem is one of the few academic experts on the complicated botany and ecology of rainforests in the Western Solomon Islands.


Current affiliation, academic qualifications and contact details.

Reader in Tropical Plant Sciences, University of Aberdeen

BA Pure and Applied Biology with Biological Anthropology. Oxford University (1989)
PhD Tropical Forest Ecology. Cambridge University (1993)

School of Biological Sciences
University of Aberdeen
Cruickshank Building
St Machar Drive
Aberdeen AB24 3UU
Scotland, U.K.

T: 01224 272695
F: 01224 272703
E: d.burslem@abdn.ac.uk

Research record and ongoing work

My research in the Western Solomons was centred on a re-census of plots in natural tropical forest on Kolombangara in 1994/95. The plots had been established by Dr TC Whitmore in 1964 and our project in 1994 conducted a 30-year recensus, a complete analysis of the 30 years of data and construction of a simulation model to predict forest growth and yield in response to disturbance. The preparation and publication of these outputs continued up to 2003 (see list below), but the plots have now been logged or disturbed and no longer serve the purpose for which they were intended. However, it is possible that the model could be developed and applied to current conditions in Solomons Islands forestry. I have no recent experience but my understanding is that most Solomons Islands forests have now been logged. In principle the model published in 1996 could be updated and used to predict the potential growth and yield of these forests.

Key publications.

Relevant to the Western Solomons:
Burslem, D.F.R.P. & Whitmore, T.C. (2003) Functional diversity and response to disturbance in lowland tropical rain forest on Kolombangara, Solomon Islands. Long term changes in composition and diversity as a result of natural and man made disturbances: case studies from the Guyana Shield, Africa, Borneo and Melanesia (ed. H. Ter Steege), pp. 61-77. Tropenbos International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Burslem, D.F.R.P., Whitmore, T.C. & Brown, G.C. (2000) Short-term effects of cyclone impact and long-term recovery of tropical rain forest on Kolombangara, Solomon Islands. Journal of Ecology, 88, 1063-1078.

Burslem, D.F.R.P. & Whitmore T.C. (1999) Species diversity, susceptibility to disturbance and tree population dynamics in tropical rain forest. Journal of Vegetation Science, 10, 767-776.

Burslem, D.F.R.P., Whitmore, T.C. & Denmark, N. (1998) A thirty-year record of forest dynamics from Kolombangara, Solomon Islands. Forest Biodiversity Research, Monitoring and  Modelling. Conceptual Background and Old World Case Studies (eds F. Dallmeier & J.A. Comiskey), pp 633-645. UNESCO, Paris and Parthenon, Carnforth, Lancs.

Whitmore, T.C. & Burslem, D.F.R.P. (1998) Major disturbances in tropical rain forests. Dynamics of Tropical Communities (eds D.M. Newbery, H.H.T. Prins & N.Brown), pp. 549-565. Blackwell Science, Oxford.

Burslem, D.F.R.P. & Whitmore, T.C. (1996) A long-term record of forest dynamics from the Solomon Islands. Biodiversity and the Dynamics of Ecosystems (eds I.M. Turner, C.H. Diong, S.S.L. Lim & P.K.L. Ng), pp. 121-131. DIWPA Series Volume 1. DIWPA, Kyoto, Japan. 383 pp.

Burslem, D.F.R.P. & Whitmore, T.C. (1996) Silvics and Wood Properties of the Common Timber Tree Species on Kolombangara. Tropical Forestry Papers 34 and Solomon Islands Forest Record 7, Oxford Forestry Institute, Oxford, U.K. 61 pp.

Burslem, D.F.R.P., Alder, D. & Whitmore, T.C. (1996) COSSI: A Cohort Simulation Model of Forest Growth and Yield in the Solomon Islands. Oxford Forestry Institute Occasional Paper 50, Oxford, U.K. 64 pp.



Burslem & Whitmore 1999 JVS.pdf

Burslem et al 2000 JEcol.pdf


Western Solomons
Updated 12 January, 2011