Dr Will Hawthorne
Senior Research Associate
Dr WD Hawthorne
Tropical botany and plant ecology
I am a tropical botanist / plant ecologist, concentrating mostly on the interface between the academic and the practical management of tropical biodiversity, particularly in forest and mostly in Africa and the Caribbean.
After a Ph.d. on the ecology and biogeography of the East African coastal forests, I worked for several years in Ghana as plant ecologist and botanist on a forest inventory and management project, for the Ghana Forestry Dept. and ODA (now DFID
). Since the early 1990s, I have been part time on research projects in the Dept. Plant Sciences, part-time freelance. Work has included: national and local botanic surveys, biodiversity databases, field guides, forest regeneration after logging and fire and guidance to forest managers. In short: researching and implementing ways of managing, conserving and assessing tropical plant biodiversity. I have worked mostly in tropical Africa - especially Ghana - and the Caribbean, but also in the Americas, from Mexico to Chile, and to Malaysia.
I have an ongoing interest in the development and implementation of objective but rapid means of assessing Bioquality
, a term for emphasising the critical or globally important aspects of the plant life in a region rather than numbers of species per se. This has involved developing Rapid Botanic Surveys, and Star ratings for species with interlinked Genetic Heat Indices
for plant communities. My involvement in Bioquality assessment and Rapid Botanic Survey (RBS) continues through collaboration with: surveys for the Ghana Ministry of Natural Resources of their network of special protected areas (GSBAs), set up as a consequence of an earlier national botanic survey; Darwin Initiative botanic surveys in Trinidad & Tobago, and Chile; RBS assesments for hydro-electric schemes in Sierra Leone and mining projects in Guinea, Mt. Nimba and Senegal and Ghana’s Northern Savanna biodiversity project
Another continuing interest has been forest regeneration and plant regeneration guilds, particularly in the context of determining or promoting recovery of rain forest condition after disturbance and use, and understanding the autoecology of the varied species in forest. I co-wrote and co-edited with Wageningen University researchers the Biodiversity of West African Forests
, which won the silver Engler book medal in 2008.
One of the main constraints in research, scientific management and conservation of rain forests is the need for accurate and rapid identification of infertile plants in the field; there is also a need to highlight to a broad audience the value and interest of plant diversity. I have therefore written field guides and other identification tools for West Africa and the Caribbean, including guides for West African woody plants
; a farmer-friendly photo-guide
to the larger trees of Ghana; and an ecotourist and student-friendly guide to the plants of Grenada
. I have collaborated in the development of database software for the management of forest data for planning reduced impact logging, and have been responsible for setting up the Virtual Field Herbarium
(VFH) with image gallery
here on the herbarium server.
Hawthorne Group Members
Publications (while at this department)
2012) Logging scars in Ghanaian high forest: Towards improved models for sustainable production Forest Ecology and Management. 271 (2): pp 27-36.
2012) Regeneration Ecology of the Useful Flora of the Putu Range Rainforest, Liberia [Perturbation et Ã©cologie de la flore utile de la forÃªt tropicale de Putu Range, LibÃ©ria] Economic Botany. 66 (4): pp 398-412.
2012) Regeneration Ecology of the Useful Flora of the Putu Range Rainforest, Liberia Economic Botany. 66 (4): pp 398-412.
2011) Predicting alpha diversity of African rain forests: models based on climate and satellite-derived data do not perform better than a purely spatial model Journal of Biogeography..
2009) The intermediate disturbance hypothesis applies to tropical forests, but disturbance contributes little to tree diversity Ecology Letters. 12 (8): pp 798-805.
2008) Optimising linear taxon sequences derived from phylogenetic trees - A reply to Haston & al. Taxon. 57 (3): pp 698-704
2008) Maximum size distributions in tropical forest communities: Relationships with rainfall and disturbance Journal of Ecology. 96 (3): pp 495-504.
2007) The odd man out? Might climate explain the lower tree Î±-diversity of African rain forests relative to Amazonian rain forests? Journal of Ecology. 95 (5): pp 1058-1071.
2006) Photoguide for the forest trees of Ghana. A tree-spotter’s field guide for identifying the largest trees .
2006) Plant Identification: User friendly Guides for biodiversity management ..
2005) Caribbean Spice Island Plants: Trees, shrubs and climbers of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique: a picture gallery with notes on identification, historical and other trivia .
2005) A botanical synopsis of the lianas and other forest climbers Chapter 2 In Forest Climbing Plants of West Africa: Diversity, Ecology and Management.
2005) Climbing plants in Ghanaian forests Chapter 6 In Forest Climbing Plants of West Africa: Diversity, Ecology and Management.
2004) Assessing landscapes: A case study of tree and shrub diversity in the seasonally dry tropical forests of Oaxaca, Mexico and southern Honduras Biological Conservation. 117 (4): pp 429-442.
2004) Ecological profiles of rare and endemic species Poorter L. et al. 2004.
2004) Ecological profiles of large timber species Poorter L. et al. 2004.
2003) Trees and farming in the dry zone of southern Honduras II: The potential for tree diversity conservation Agroforestry Systems. 59 (2): pp 107-117.
2001) Forest Conservation in Ghana: Forestry, Dragons, Genetic Heat African Rain Forest Ecology And Conservation. An Interdisciplinary Perspective.
2000) How important are forest elephants to the survival of woody plant species in Upper Guinean forests? Journal of Tropical Ecology. 16 (1): pp 133-150.
1999) Tree data management, mapping, and the development of the TREMA software International Forestry Review. 1 (2): pp 87-96
1998) Forest Production and Biodiversity Conservation in Ghana, and Proposed International Support of Biodiversity Conservation CSERGE working paper.
1996) Holes and the sums of parts in Ghanaian forest: Regeneration, scale and sustainable use Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Section B: Biological Sciences. 104: pp 75-176
1994) Fire and forest regeneration in Ghana O.D.A. Forestry Series 4.
1993) Forest regeneration after logging in Bia South GPR, Ghana O.D.A. Forestry Series 3.
1993) The coastal forests Chapter 5 in The Forests of Eastern Africa.
1992) The conservation of the East African Coastal forests Biological Conservation. 62: pp 205-218
Most of my part-time funding over the years came directly or indirectly from DFID/FRP (U.K. Dept. for International Development, Forestry Research Programme); then more recently from the Darwin Initiative projects, with other work for IUCN for technical advice to their Allanblackia
and fire projects; and in the past, projects funded by the European Commission. Since 2008 I have obtained funding from West African Mining companies for vegetation surveys; and as part of IHG and James Martin funding in the department.
In West Africa : (
Baseline vegetation bioquality etc surveys of future mine sites)
Arcelor Mittal (Liberia) Ltd.
BHP-Billion and SMFG (Guinea)
Putu Iron Ore Mining (Liberia)
Oromin (Gold mining Senegal)
Ntim Gyakari (Forestry Dept., Kumasi, herbarium Curator)
Patrick Ekpe (University of Ghana, Legon, Herbarium curator)
Abu Juam Musah (Northern Savanna Biodiversity project).
At Wageningen University, the Netherlands (Ecosyn project):
Mr. Frans Bongers (Prof. Forestry)
Carel Jongkind (Herbarium Vadense)
Recently completed Darwin Initiative projects: the Darwin Maule
Project in Chile, and in Trinidad
with the University of West Indies, St. Augustine
Tropical Botany, Ecology, Tropical Forest Biodiversity assessment and management, Field guides, databases, forest regeneration