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Sean Thomas

Associate Professor
Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) Forests and Environmental Change
Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto

Thomas imageMy research examines the responses of trees and forests to human environmental impacts: intentional impacts through forest management, unintentional impacts via local, regional, and global changes in the environment, and the interaction between these. In this effort, we strive to link an understanding of functional ecology and eco-physiology of trees ("how trees work") to community-level patterns of growth, mortality, recruitment, reproduction, and ecosystem process (“how forests work”). A major focus of current research is the functional biology of tree aging and its consequences to ecosystem processes.

I have a long history of research with the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS), which coordinates a worldwide network of mapped tropical forest “mega-plots”. The lab is currently in the planning stages of implementing the first temperate forest “mega-plot” in North America, which will tentatively measure 25 ha and include ~100,000 trees ≥ 1 cm stem diameter.  This plot will serve to increase both our understanding local forest dynamics (particularly in relation to riparian/lake interfaces), and will facilitate large-scale tropical-temperate comparative studies with plots in the CTFS network.

To learn more about my lab’s research, please visit our website: