• Turku, Finland - Summer 2008


    January 1, 2015

    In the past I have worked with a mobile canopy crane (http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/07-0531.1) and I can say from first-hand experience that collecting data on aspects of canopy structure and leaf physiology in tall forests is tough.

    While researchers have approached this challenge in many creative ways (stationary cranes, mobile cranes, rafts that sit on top of the canopy, climbing), I think that drones are going to be a “game changer” for canopy research. I am thus very interested in the application of drones in quantifying forest canopy – environment interactions. Together with fellow enthusiast Ian Seiferling, we have built a hexacopter that will initially be equipped with a digital camera for stereophotogrammetry of vegetation and forest canopies.  Nicknamed Mr. Perfect because of Ian’s attention to detail (and as a cheeky reference to the wrestler from 1980s) , we have progressed from choosing a frame, motors, and speed controllers to conducting test flights. Here is a test flight Ian conducted in the fall of last year.

    Ian is currently working on his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Raphael Proulx (UQTR) and Dr. Christian Wirth (U of Leipzig).

    Mr. Perfect currently lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and we hope to be up and flying some missions soon.

     October 1, 2014

     I am pleased to report that back in February I started preparations for making a move from UQAM in Montréal, Canada to Freiburg, Germany.  Our move was very successful (despite needing every hour of the last day before we were scheduled to fly) with nothing major broken (including two iMacs!).  My research here in Freiburg will be continuing with work I started in Montreal on experimental approaches to studying the linkages between tree diversity and ecosystem function. For more information please take a look at IDENT (http://www.treedivnet.ugent.be/ExpIDENT.html) and Michael Scherer-lorenzens long-running BIOTREE experiment in Thuringia, Germany (http://www.treedivnet.ugent.be/ExpBIOTREE.html).

    Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 10.18.27

    Photo: IDENT, Freiburg – Spring, 2014

    My wife Bess, my son Edwin and I arrived in April and hit the ground running with much work to do at the IDENT experiment which was planted last autumn. It has continued to be a busy summer but with administrative things all taken care I will be updating this page more often.


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    Finally, a big congratulations to my student Matt Follett (UQAM, Montreal) who submitted his first paper (on urban tree crown growth) this week and will be finishing his Masters this fall.  Way to go Matt!


    January 17, 2014

    A great way to start the year!

    A letter I submitted to Science just before the holidays on urban forests and ecosystem services was published today. Find the letter and the interesting response by Boyd et al. here or on researchgate

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    December 16, 2013

    3D Online herbarium? Check out this link to some examples from LSU

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    December 3, 2013

    Our new article on using 3D cameras like the Microsoft Kinect or Asus Xtion to measure plant structure just went online

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    November 21, 2013

    Greg Asner on remote sensing of tropical forests

    October 1, 2013

    More sneak peaks I came across of UAV research development going on at BCI in Panama, thanks STRI and Conservation Drones for sharing.


    August 16, 2013
    Back from a fantastic week spent at ESA in Minneapolis, Minnesota (view from the plane on departure)
    photo (3)
    Some highlights: 1) No power during “Managing the World’s Forests as Complex Adaptive Systems”. Speakers: E Filotas, S Levine, C Messier, K Puettmann and MW Cornett did a great job despite the lack of electrons.

    2) Dining alone at Devil’s Advocate I happened to meet Jonathan Dandois and we had some great conversation over some IPA about UAVs and remote sensing of canopy structure (drones). He just spent some time testing and collecting data at BCI in Panama this summer. Check out their site Ecosynth

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    High resolution photo online here
    My plans are to start building a hexacopter over the long winter here in Montreal — stay tuned.
    June 12, 2013

    First results of our freezing rain study published!

    available here

    April 1, 2013

    Our article on forest fire occurrence in Canada and climate change is still at the top of the most read list at IJWF.


    February 1, 2013

    A year or so ago my wife Bess forwarded my name to Julia Rothman as a possible contributor to a book on the mysteries of science.

    The book is out and is receiving great reviews, including: Science.

    My piece is entitled: How long can trees live? Sadly, it was not mentioned in the review.

    full article available here


    January 26, 2013


    Abstracts submitted for the CEF colloq 2013. My oral presentation will focus on biomechanics and ice loading on branches. I have also submitted an abstract for a poster on the use of 3D cameras (e.g. MS Kinect, Asus Xtion) to measure plant architecture.





    December 1, 2012

    Excellent piece by Zuidema et al. arguing the value of long-term data sets on tropical tree growth and physiology for gaining insights into changes in tropical forest dynamics with climate change.