I’m a forest ecologist at The University of Nottingham, UK. My research studies how forest structures form through the interactions among trees, and how the organisation of forests influences other things that live inside them. Hence the name of the blog. It’s got nothing to do with this. I’m part of the Ecology and Evolution group at The University of Nottingham.

The blog is a venue for me to share thoughts on forest ecology as represented in scientific research, topical news stories or wider politics. Other topics likely to crop up are general observations on a life in science, the field of ecology, or valuable resources for research. Some of it will be venting my spleen and the usual disclaimers regarding my employer apply. Comments are welcome and open to all, particularly if you disagree. Please keep contributions civil and evidence-based and I will endeavour to do the same.

I’m on Twitter @markus_eichhorn and have a YooToob channel where I waffle about trees and plants at www.test-tube.org.uk/trees/. I also write for the Rant and Reason column of the British Ecological Society Bulletin, where my contributions are deliberately unreasonable and provocative. If you’re not a member, and you’re reading this blog, then you probably should be.

Note for potential graduate students

I’m always interested in recruiting new post-graduate students, whether at Masters or PhD level. We have a fantastic group here, with members from all over the world, and new faces are always welcome. Note however that I receive in the order of a hundred enquiries a year, and normally accept only one or two. Before making a speculative approach, please think about a few questions:

(a) Why do you want to work with me in particular? Empty flattery will get you nowhere — I need to be convinced that you are excited by the same questions, and as eager to find the answers.

(b) What will you bring to the group? Applicants who claim to be able to do anything are of little interest; it’s better to be able to do something. I’m especially keen on applicants who can bring unusual skills into ecology, particularly mathematicians, physicists or computer scientists. Don’t worry if you have no experience in forest ecology; we can provide that. Note that loving the outdoors and enjoying fieldwork are minimum expectations for a quantitative ecologist, not qualifications in themselves.

(c) How will you fund your position? If you are not fortunate enough to have your own funding, please make the effort to look at the opportunities available and think about how you will apply. Bear in mind that international scholarships at the University are highly competitive, and they only cover your fees, not your living costs. I’m always willing to help good applicants to develop proposals and track down funding but the primary motivation needs to come from you. Having funding isn’t enough on its own either; see (a) above.

(d) Why do you want to do a PhD? In case you’re not already aware, most PhD graduates don’t end up working in academia. If that’s your dream then go for it, but even most PhD students who start with that ambition want out by the end. A PhD is difficult, intensive and all-consuming. It is the highest academic qualification for a reason. It will bring you no glory, no financial rewards, and may even make you less employable by the end. If you’re aware of all this and still can’t resist the lure of the trees then it might be for you.

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