Dr David Boshier

Senior Research Associate

Tel +44 (0) 1865 275128
Fax +44 (0) 1865 275074

Research Area

Reproductive biology and population genetics of trees

Research Description

My research focuses on the genetics of tree populations, human impacts (e.g. fragmentation, logging) on such populations and applications to issues of use and conservation in natural and agro-ecosystems. Recent research has focussed on the genetic effects of fragmentation on remnant stands and trees, which are currently under debate. Whilst fragmentation may reduce populations below critical size and gene flow to levels below that needed to prevent genetic drift, it may also increase or alter patterns of gene flow between remnant populations. Consequently, even in severely fragmented landscapes, remnant forest patches and trees may be effective and important in conserving genetic diversity.

With Tonya Lander and Stephen Harris we studied how land-uses vary in the degree to which they present a barrier to, or facilitate, gene flow, depending on the ecological requirements of the organism and the ecological attributes of the matrix. The study focused on an endangered endemic tree from Chile, Gomortega keule (queule; Gomortagaceae), using an ecologically explicit landscape. Our results have significant implications for; theoretical landscape ecology, how habitat corridors and biological reserves are designed, and landscapes maybe simultaneously managed for conservation, economic and social value. This was part of a Darwin Initiative project.

As part of the SEEDSOURCE project (with Paul Rymer, Christina Vinson) we used field and laboratory techniques to study the genetic resources of neotropical trees (partners in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, UK, France, Germany, Italy). The overall aim was to provide best practice for sourcing tree germplasm for use within degraded landscapes to ensure the use of best adapted material, that maximises production, without eroding genetic and ecosystem diversity and long term adaptive potential. Integration of climatic, topographic and substrate information with genetic differentiation and diversity estimates from non-coding and potentially coding genetic markers and adaptive performance from growth trials to produce appropriate translocation guidelines for 16 study species. Work at Oxford covered Cordia alliodora, Pachira quinata, and Swietenia humilis.

Application of research results
I am also interested in knowledge exchange through the development of appropriate materials. As part of the SEEDSOURCE project and in conjunction with Bioversity International (for whom I am an Honorary Research Fellow), I have developed a series of training modules  for use in the teaching of forest genetic resources. Each module uses actual data and visual teacher resources to examine the relevance and use of genetic information in the formulation and implementation of conservation actions. With Jesus Cordero-Salvado and researchers at CATIE, we published the book Central American trees: source book for extension workers. This book was also the focus for a training programme on the production of extension materials throughout Central America.

Publications (while at this department)

Boshier, D.H, Buggs, R.J.A. (2015) The potential for field studies and genomic technologies to enhance resistance and resilience of British tree populations to pests and pathogens. Forestry. 88 (1): pp 27-40.


Spielmann, A, Harris, S.A, Boshier, D.H, Vinson, C.C. (2015) Orchard: Paternity program for autotetraploid species Molecular Ecology Resources..


Rymer, P.D, Harris, S, Boshier, D. (2014) Isolation and characterization of microsatellite markers for the neotropical tree, Pachira quinata (Malvaceae) Conservation Genetics Resources. 6 (2): pp 375-382.


Thomas, E, Jalonen, R, Loo, J, Boshier, D, Gallo, L, Cavers, S, Bordacs, S, Smith, P, Bozzano, M. (2014) Genetic considerations in ecosystem restoration using native tree species Forest Ecology and Management..


Vinson, C.C, Kanashiro, M, Harris, S.A, Boshier, D.H. (2014) Impacts of selective logging on inbreeding and gene flow in two Amazonian timber species with contrasting ecological and reproductive characteristics Molecular Ecology. 24 (1): pp 38-53.


Vinson, C.C, Kanashiro, M, Sebbenn, A.M, Williams, T.C, Harris, S.A, Boshier, D.H. (2014) Long-term impacts of selective logging on two Amazonian tree species with contrasting ecological and reproductive characteristics: inferences from Eco-gene model simulations Heredity..


Rymer, P.D, Sandiford, M, Harris, S.A, Billingham, M.R, Boshier, D.H. (2013) Remnant Pachira quinata pasture trees have greater opportunities to self and suffer reduced reproductive success due to inbreeding depression Heredity..


Rymer, P.D, Dick, C.W, Vendramin, G.G, Buonamici, A, Boshier, D. (2012) Recent phylogeographic structure in a widespread 'weedy' Neotropical tree species, Cordia alliodora (Boraginaceae) Journal of Biogeography..


Lander, TonyaA, Bebber, DanielP, Choy, ChrisT.L, Harris, StephenA, Boshier, DavidH. (2011) The Circe Principle Explains How Resource-Rich Land Can Waylay Pollinators in Fragmented Landscapes Current Biology..


Audigeos, D, Buonamici, A, Belkadi, L, Rymer, P, Boshier, D, Scotti-Saintagne, C, Vendramin, G.G, Scotti, I. (2010) Aquaporins in the wild: Natural genetic diversity and selective pressure in the PIP gene family in five Neotropical tree species BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10 (1):.


Lander, T.A, Boshier, D.H, Harris, S.A. (2010) Fragmented but not isolated: Contribution of single trees, small patches and long-distance pollen flow to genetic connectivity for Gomortega keule, an endangered Chilean tree Biological Conservation. 143 (11): pp 2583-2590.


Petrokofsky, G, Brown, N.D, Hemery, G.E, Woodward, S, Wilson, E, Weatherall, A, Stokes, V, Smithers, R.J, Sangster, M, Russell, K, Pullin, A.S, Price, C, Morecroft, M, Malins, M, Lawrence, A, Kirby, K.J, Godbold, D, Charman, E, Boshier, D, Bosbeer, S, Arnold, J.E.M. (2010) A participatory process for identifying and prioritizing policy-relevant research questions in natural resource management: A case study from the UK forestry sector Forestry. 83 (4): pp 357-367.


Lander, T.A, Harris, S.A, Boshier, D.H. (2009) Flower and fruit production and insect pollination of the endangered Chilean tree, Gomortega keule in native forest, exotic pine plantation and agricultural environments Revista Chilena de Historia Natural. 82 (3): pp 403-412


Ward, S.E, Boshier, D, Grogan, J. (2008) Editorial Forest Ecology and Management. 255 (2): pp 265-268.


Lander, T.A, Boshier, D.H, Harris, S.A. (2007) Isolation and characterization of eight polymorphic microsatellite loci for the endangered, endemic Chilean tree Gomortega keule (Gomortegaceae) Molecular Ecology Notes. 7 (6): pp 1332-1334.


Sebbenn, A.M, Boshier, D.H, Freitas, M.L.M, Zanatto, A.C.S, Sato, A.S, Ettori, L.C, Moraes, E. (2007) Results of an international provenance trial of Cordia alliodora in São Paulo, Brazil at five and 23 years of age Silvae Genetica. 56: pp 110-117


Boshier, D, Stewart, J. (2005) How local is local? Identifying the scale of adaptive variation in ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.): Results from the nursery Forestry. 78 (2): pp 135-143.


Lowe, A.J, Boshier, D, Ward, M, Bacles, C.F.E, Navarro, C. (2005) Genetic resource impacts of habitat loss and degradation; reconciling empirical evidence and predicted theory for neotropical trees Heredity. 95 (4): pp 255-273.


White, G.M, Boshier, D.H, Powell, W. (2002) Increased pollen flow counteracts fragmentation in a tropical dry forest: An example from Swietenia humilis Zuccarini Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99 (4): pp 2038-2042.


Jennings, S.B, Brown, N.D, Boshier, D.H, Whitmore, T.C, Lopes, J.doC.A. (2001) Ecology provides a pragmatic solution to the maintenance of genetic diversity in sustainably managed tropical rain forests Forest Ecology and Management. 154: pp 1-10.


White, G.M, Boshier, D.H, Powell, W. (1999) Genetic variation within a fragmented population of Swietenia humilis Zucc. Molecular Ecology. 8 (11): pp 1899-1909.


Pushpakumara, D.K.N.G, Boshier, D.H, Harris, S.A. (1997) Mating system in Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam Tropical Agricultural Research. 9: pp 1-14


Boshier, D.H, Chase, M.R, Bawa, K.S. (1995) Population genetics of Cordia alliodora (Boraginaceae), a neotropical tree. 3. Gene flow, neighborhood, and population substructure American Journal of Botany. 82 (4): pp 484-490


Boshier, D.H, Chase, M.R, Bawa, K.S. (1995) Population genetics of Cordia alliodora (Boraginaceae), a neotropical tree. 2. Mating system American Journal of Botany. 82 (4): pp 476-483


Boshier, D.H. (1995) Incompatibility in Cordia alliodora (Boraginaceae), a neotropical tree Canadian Journal of Botany. 73 (3): pp 445-456


Chase, M.R, Boshier, D.H, Bawa, K.S. (1995) Population genetics of Cordia alliodora (Boraginaceae), a neotropical tree. 1. Genetic variation in natural populations American Journal of Botany. 82 (4): pp 468-475